It is said that during major forest fires or other natural disasters bears, lions, deer, rabbits, and other animals will run away from it side by side and may even share a cave or other protected place until the danger is past. When the harvest began it was all life forms for themselves at first. But it soon became clear that this was not only a war of survival against the elements, it was a war against a natural enemy that was bent on the complete destruction of all other life forms. An observer would have been amazed to see groups of wildly different animals banding together to defend a location against the ants. Part of this was because there was no time to fight among themselves and part of it was the fact that the ants had herded them into a dead end and there was nothing remaining to do but for every species to fight together against this greater menace.

An even more amazing sight was to see flocks of birds exhausted from trying to stay in the air above the fray begin to join forces with pinned down herds of animals in a wild fight to the death. But in almost every case the sheer numbers of the ants, who were replenishing their losses faster than they could be killed by the defenders, would eventually win out. For an alien species looking down on the situation, it would have almost been comical if it were not so terrible and gruesome. Humans were fighting beside bears and wild cats together with dogs, foxes, mice, and squirrels. But the waves of soldier ants of all sizes just kept coming, their stingers paralyzing their prey and their mandibles slicing them into manageable pieces for the worker ants coming to clean up the carnage.

The insect world was not spared either, nothing was safe from the ants, no food source was rejected. Word was passed along to the workers from the ant scouts via special chemicals and touching of antennas together pointing out the directions to find every type of available food, and each different type of ant eventually received the information so that their workers could rush to the scene and put the newfound source of nutrition and energy to good use building the hive and continuing the harvest.

Some of the world's militaries also put up a courageous fight, others disbanded from their ranks and fled to their homes and families where they would each put up their last stand. But the earth was still mostly in darkness, the sun did not give its light except dim outbursts here and there. When the moon could be seen at all it was a dark reddish-brown color and it gave little light. Power grids were down everywhere and most vehicles could not be started, but some EMP-hardened military vehicles, aircraft, and ships still remained in service. The problem was finding the crews to service and operate them. The world had been on a war footing against the threat of an alien invasion that never existed, at least not of the extraterrestrial type. But even with that, it was not like every tank, artillery unit, bomber, or fighter aircraft was kept fueled, armed, and ready to go. The ships at sea were all loaded out, but that was little consolation for the troops on the ground. Amidst all of the initial confusion and the amount of time that it took to figure out who the enemy really was, many military bases and entire armies were simply overrun by the ants before they could get prepared to defend themselves.

Hill Air Force base in Ogden, Utah was not one of the bases to get caught off guard. Major General Jimmy (Fish) Sturgeon was in charge and no one had any doubts about that fact. A National Guard tank company out of Louisiana had arrived last week along with a quick reaction force made up of members of the 10th Army Division and a company of rangers out of Fort Hood. Three Apache Helicopters and their support crew had shown up three days ago just ahead of a trainload of supplies and ammunition from Fort Rucker, Alabama. Fish didn't know what to make of the whole alien story but in his mind something was wrong and all of his three-plus percent Seminole Indian blood was telling him that something big was in play.

The Air Base, which was normally only lightly secured, was put on high alert and the security at every entrance was beefed up, including the concrete barriers used to prevent someone with a car bomb from crashing through the gate. Next, he ordered heavily sandbagged forward machine gun hardpoints to be built with overlapping fire. Behind them, mortar pits were dug and live rounds were pre-stacked and protected by sandbags. A permanent fighter air cap was established using an Apache for close in recommence and ground support and two F-35's from the base's own squadron for long range reconnaissance and to be ready for any surprise threats from the air. All bombers and fighter bombers were loaded out with a variety of weapons packages to cover all of the potential threats, some were kept on ready alert and the rest were kept fueled but undercover. Fish left the deployment of the Tank Company up to their Commander, Skip Johns. They were to be ready to meet any enemy armor head-on if the need arose, but barring an enemy armored attack they were to be ready to defend the base against direct enemy attack. The tanks would have to serve as an augmentation to the mortar artillery and as the last line of heavy gun defense. The Rangers were provided living quarters but were also told to set up a perimeter between the machine gun nests and to dig in and be ready for anything.

There was a lot of grumbling from the men who were expecting more of a vacation than real maneuvers and what looked like the beginning of a fight. Other units had been dispersed to different bases and strategic locations and cell phone conversions with friends revealed that almost everyone else had just arrived on location, stored their gear and then were left on their own. Many who were off duty at other similar air bases were allowed to leave the base and enjoy the local flavor. But it seems that General Sturgeon, the Fish, was a bit of a hard ass and the nervous type, so nobody but scouts in Humvees, pickup trucks, and vans were allowed to leave the base. Continuous but unarmed scout patrols were sent up and down the main road into town and along all of the backroads and trails around the base up to five miles out. They were to report by radio any unusual activity no matter how trivial it seemed.

Just before the blast from the sun hit Hill Air Base General Sturgeon was in his office going over the latest intel on the alien objects that had entered the solar system. That is when he received a private secure message from his best friend in the Pentagon, it was encrypted with their own code so that only he could decipher it and read the message. Jack had obviously been in a hurry and the message was short. "Forget aliens, natural disaster imminent, unknown internal enemy, we are under attack." He was just picking up his phone to order the launch of the ready fighter bombers when the first earthquake hit and the lights went out. He looked out his window and observed the flashing daylight, it seemed impossible, the sun was turning on and off like God was flipping a switch. Then everything went black and the base shook again from another earthquake. Emergency backup lighting powered on as Fish hurriedly made his way to communications. One of the F-35's had flamed out and had lost all instrumentation, the pilot had ejected. The Apache was on the way to provide air support to the pilot until one of the base transport helicopters could get there to pick him up. All off base power had been lost and engineers were having trouble getting the backup diesel power to work, for some reason the auto start and the ABT switches had failed to operate on the loss of normal AC power. Eventually, they were able to bypass the electronic switches and start the diesel generator.

They soon discovered that cell phone service, as well as hard lines, were down, only the EMP hardened military radio system was working. The only orders they received were to take a defensive posture against an unknown enemy of unknown strength. All of the scout vehicles with the exception of the Humvee were reported out of commission. The general ordered the scouts that were now on foot to hump it back to base, the Humvee was to go to the outskirts of Ogden and check conditions in the city, but they were ordered to stay clear of the population and to not get themselves tangled up in municipal matters.

It was the middle of the day and the sun refused to shine, Fish stepped outside and looked up in wonder. He noted large flocks of birds on the move, he could also make out the silhouette of what looked like herds of deer or antelope racing across the open range outside the base perimeter. Stepping back inside he told a junior officer to check the defensive perimeter and make sure that everyone had a full loadout of food water and ammunition, this could be a long day's night, he said!

The Humvee scout reported hearing gunfire in town and a line of civilian vehicles leaving, most of them were heading toward the base's main gate. What in the devil thought Fish, then he ordered the Humvee crew to return to base immediately and use the back gate for entry. He then sent an armed squad to meet the civilians at the front gate, don't shoot anyone he ordered unless they shoot at you first. I need to know immediately what is going on in town and why they are at our gate.

The Scouts returning on foot made it through the front gate seconds before the first civilian vehicle from Ogden arrived. The scouts had nothing to report besides the sounds of sirens and shooting in the city followed closely by seeing the civilian vehicles racing towards them in the distance, the scouts were exhausted after the long hike and then sprinting the last one hundred yards to get in ahead of whatever was coming up behind them. The civilians were stopped by the barricade and armed soldiers, the scene was chaotic with armed men and women as well as loads of crying children who were obviously terrified. There were also panicked people screaming to be allowed entry into the base for protection. General Sturgeon ordered them disarmed and sent to hanger 13 for a debriefing.

The stories from Ogden were horrifying and Fish listened to them intently as they told of ants as large as a compact car's, he had no skepticism at all, as crazy as the stories seemed these people were truly terrified and they could not all be experiencing a mental breakdown. Everyone able to fight was given back their weapons and those unarmed were supplied with whatever was available. Fish ordered them to stay calm and keep the safety on their weapons, They were to fire at nothing except in direct defense of hanger 13, which had now been designated for housing the civilians. Mothers and children were kept inside the building and within a secondary barrier that had quickly been erected. Sargent Brad Simmons was ordered to stay with the civilians and set up a defensive perimeter using the armed civilians, the secondary barrier would form their final fallback position if the base was overrun. Hill Air Force Base was now over two hours into the beginning of the Harvest and had yet to see the enemy.

All airmen were given their orders, seek out the ants, expend their ordinance and return to base for rearming. The three Apaches and the base transport helicopters would supply the bulk of the close-in air support until the enemy was 1000 yards from the fence, then all assets would concentrate on protecting the base perimeter. The ready fighter bombers had already made the first contact with a column of ants on the Outskirts of Ogden, the Humvee scouts entered the back gate to the sound of bombs exploding and strafing runs in the distance.

The first wave of ants arrived in a rush of rocket flashes, cannon fire, and machine-gun bursts from the helicopters. The sky was soon full of both jets and helicopters with the jets circling wide and the helicopters circling just outside the fence. It was a chaotic scene with spent brass raining down from the sky and shining like glitter in the searchlights. The mortar crews and the tanks held their fire until the helicopters had to land and reload then they opened up with everything they had. The jets stayed out of range and a small corridor was left open for those returning to refuel and re-arm.

The work was intense as was the constant sound of explosions and gunfire. The bodies of ants piled up outside the fence and beyond, but they just kept coming in never-ending waves. After six hours of constant fighting, the men were wearing down and the heavy ammunition and bombs were running out. The tanks and machine-gun crews were blasting ants off the fence now and each new wave brought them closer to breaching the perimeter. At the last, General Sturgeon ordered the aircraft fueled and loaded with the last of their ammunition for their final flight. The last Airbase in the vicinity that they had communication with had been Minot in North Dakota, so after unloading their ammunition on the ants they were to fly there and see if they still existed, if not they would have to seek shelter wherever they could. The helicopters would stay and fight until the last second, then the Apaches were on their own and the transports would load as many as possible and attempt to escape to safety.

But escape never happened. Some of the tanks tried to break out but when they ran out of fuel there was no place to go, they were stuck in their iron coffins with ants outside just waiting for them to exit. Fish went down in style, armed with a war hatchet in one hand, a gift from his WW II-era father, and a .45 in the other hand he fought into a corner and was sliced in half by the largest red soldier ant among his attackers. Hanger 13 too was overrun by the ants who showed no mercy at all, the dead and dying were hauled away in the grasp of the worker ants, and the sound of screaming echoed into the reddish-brown night. A civilian who was hiding among the stuff fired the last shots at Hill Air Force Base just before his head was removed from his shoulders. Afterward, the only sounds were the scurrying and searching of worker ants and scout ants searching for edible remains or any life that might still exist among the rubble.

Part 1: Preface

Part 2: The knowledge of the desolate

Part 3: The Beginning of the End

Part 4: Answers Come Suddenly to the Longsuffering