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Quote of the Week: "A great civilization is not conquered from without until it has destroyed itself from within." - Will Durant, American historian (1885-1981)


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 Post subject: Re: Godforsaken Future(now back from hiatus) PostPosted: 2012-11-02 11:01pm
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Youngling

Joined: 2010-03-22 02:14pm
Posts: 148
At last I have returned. Sorry for the wait, not content to be the absolutely slowest to update his story(that title seems to go to Bladed Crescent :P ) I have finally come back with another update. So here you go.

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 Post subject: Re: Godforsaken Future(now back from hiatus) PostPosted: 2012-11-02 11:05pm
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Youngling

Joined: 2010-03-22 02:14pm
Posts: 148
Episode 35




“In Nuclear War all men are cremated equal.”
-Dexter Gordon




-2:56 AM March 30, 1988, Cosoleacaque, Veracruz, Mexico





Every fucking night, every goddamn night.

PFC Marc Dickens mentally cursed his impatient bladder as he rolled out of his sweat soaked bunk and slid down onto the deck. When his feet hit the cool linoleum, he was reminded that this nightly ritual wasn't entirely horrible.

Despite the dozen or so fans situated by the gargantuan windows endlessly laboring to ventilate the gymnasium that they had turned into an ad-hock barracks, it was still hot as hell in there and if not for the grueling schedule that Lt. Barret had thrown at them every day, nobody would ever get any sleep at night.

As quickly as possible and with as much care as he could manage, Marc turned and headed toward the hatch marked with a dimly lit sign that read 'SALIDA.'

As he made his way across the gymnasium, he listened to the sounds around him. The occasional Marine tossing in his bunk and the distant thumping of helicopters that managed to cut through the soft rumble of the fans. He chuckled mentally at the thought that this would be about as peaceful as this area would ever get and that line of thinking was cut off suddenly as he came to the realization of what it would mean if it actually got quieter and quickly put that thought aside when he reached the hatch.

If the gym was hot, the hallway outside it was downright sweltering. Doing his best to let the hatch close quietly behind him, he futilely attempted to wipe the sweat from his forehead. He didn't need to look hard to find what he was looking for, a bright white rectangle outlined where the hatch to the head was.

With less care taken to minimize noise this time, Marc made it to the hatch in no time and thought nothing of it when he walked through it and into the room. When his eyes finished adjusting, Marc found himself confronted with five Marines sitting around what looked like an oil drum, and they appeared to be playing cards.

Silence filled the room as Marc stared at them and they stared back.

After a minute, someone broke the silence.

“He look like an officer to you? Now show us whatcha got.”

The tension broken, the other Marines all started chuckling, and Marc in turn smirked as he turned and headed for the row of urinals along the far wall.

Despite the faint but unpleasant odor that permeated the entire room, Marc was hardly surprised at their presence in there. It was easily a good ten degrees cooler in there and quite possibly the coolest part of the entire building.

Without paying much attention to such considerations, he wasted no time getting down to business and before he knew it he was emptying his bladder in relative peace.

It was not to be. Within seconds the tranquility of the night was shattered by the distant but unmistakable roar of an ancient sounding air raid siren.

The room filled with a veritable explosion of of expletives and chaos as five Marines stumbled to their feet. Marc jumped so hard from the surprise that he almost pissed all over himself.

Seconds later, the six of them scrambled out of the head and into the corridor, this time it was filled with lots of noise and people running in every direction.

Marc grabbed someone who was moving a little slower than everyone else, a kid who looked even younger than he did and who was still trying to pull his uniform on “what the hell is going on?!” he shouted.

The other Marine looked at him with a slightly annoyed expression “what the fuck do you think?! It's the damn skinnies, they're coming!”





-10:02 AM March 30, 1988, Orange-Caritat Air Base, Orange, Vaucluse, France




Hundreds of feet pounded on pavement as the distance between Jean and his plane shrunk.

The seconds passed excruciatingly slow and lightning quick at the same time, and he and his ground crew reached the Mirage in short order.

He wasted no time or momentum and didn't break stride in order to leap onto the ladder leading up to the waiting cockpit. With the kind of agility only earned with hundreds of hours spent learning every inch of his plane, he launched himself off of the top rung of the ladder and into his pilot's seat without getting hung up on a single thing or even brushing against any of the various knobs or toggles lining the cockpit interior.

Taking no time to catch his breath, he buckled himself in and threw his helmet on, then went about the task of checking his cockpit to make sure everything was ready for takeoff. Deciding to take a second, he glanced back to catch a glimpse of his ground crew running last second checks and unhooking various cables and hoses from his plane with a rehearsed precision that seemed almost inhuman in its perfection.

They had done this far too many times. He and his fellow pilots had launched themselves at the enemy with reckless abandon, made the ultimate sacrifice, fought a life-and-death struggle, they had done it all too many damn times, with far too much regularity, and now this.

Silently he wondered if they would ever be able to come back from battle and actually count it as a true victory, one that would last, and that would matter in the grand scheme. Then he caught himself wondering if this would be the last time the sun would rise over France.

Almost as if on cue, something bright flashed over the southern horizon.

He didn't know what it was, although he had a few guesses. What he did know was that whatever was coming for him and his homeland that day, whether it be aliens or the devil himself, he would make them pay a hefty price before he went on his merry way, there was little more that he could guarantee that day.




-0905 Zulu March 30, 1988, somewhere off the Mexican Pacific coast




“This is the captain, that concludes today's torpedo drills. Nice work people. Carry on.”

Captain Reginald Ackerman's lips twitched in the slightest indication of a grin as he hung up the growler. He looked over at Commander Sinclair who was marking some notes on a clipboard “not bad at all, that was a whole minute faster than the previous record” he said with an impressed look on his face.

Ackerman nodded as he crossed his arms “I guess sending Lieutenant Commander Rollins down there to... lend a hand had the desired effect” he said with a small grin.

It had been no secret that the torpedo room's morning watch had been suffering from 'less than desired' performance of late. It also had been no secret that the Lieutenant Commander's ability to motivate was of almost legendary status. So it came as little surprise to anyone(with the possible exception of perhaps the men in the torpedo room at least) when Ackerman had decided to take his executive officer's advice and send his second officer down to the torpedo room to 'motivate' the men there to improve their performance.

Under normal circumstances an alternative response to the situation would have been used, but being that the most likely reason for the faltering performance of the men in question had been due to an accident which resulted in the death of a young ensign a week earlier.

It wasn't anyone's fault, merely a mounting bracket on one of the loading racks had given way, crushing the skull of the poor young man. A faulty piece of equipment had been the cause, not enemy action, or even the negligence of a fellow crew member. No, a simple act of god, a random chance. Tragically, not a rarity in this line of work.

The whole crew had taken it poorly, but they who had actually been there for the incident in question and seen one of their comrades die right before their eyes had taken it the hardest. Normally, a more punitive response would have been used, but Sinclair decided(and Ackerman had agreed) that a more nuanced approach would be more productive, and it seems that they had been right.

He would have to remember the Lieutenant Commander's motivational abilities when writing his next evaluation.

The XO grinned back “quite” he said with a chuckle.

Straightening his own expression, Ackerman returned his attention to the business of running his boat “helm, make your depth three hundred feet and come to a heading of oh-two-five, twenty degree up angle” he ordered.

The helmsman's response was almost instantaneous “making my depth three hundred feet and coming to a heading of oh-two-five, twenty degree up-angle aye” he repeated.

Ackerman braced himself against a railing as the entire boat angled upward “I guess we-” he was cut off as a voice from the growler interrupted him.

“Conn, radio, we have an emergency action message from the NCA. I say again, we have an emergency action message.”

Lieutenant McKern's voice sounded as though it was quavering, whether it was a result of distortion over the growler or actually due to the radio officer's own anxiety was unknown, although no one could blame him if the latter was the case. Everyone on board knew what all of the possible implications of an EAM from the National Command Authority were, and with the possible exception of a missile drill, none of them were even remotely good, especially under the present circumstances.

He exchanged concerned glances with his executive officer as he reached up to grab the hand set and held it up to his mouth “radio, this is the Captain, understood. Lieutenant McKern, meet me at the authenticator safe on the double” he said.

“Aye Captain” came the simple response, this time McKern's voice sounded more solid, Ackerman hoped that his sounded as calm.

Flipping the switch on the boat-wide intercom, Ackerman spoke again “this is the Captain, we have an emergency action message from the National Command Authority. Lieutenant Commander Rollins, meet me at the Authenticator safe on the double” he ordered, again trying his best to keep his voice as steady as possible.

*-*-*

With deliberate steps, he and his first officer moved down the corridor and around a corner. It was a struggle to make the move, not just because of the awkward angle at which the decking was inclined due to the boat's present maneuvers. While he was anxious to find out exactly what was contained within the transmission so as to break the tension and anticipation, he also dreaded just what the contents of the message would be.

They passed two enlisted men as they rounded the corner and his eyes reflexively went to the safe down the corridor.

A few seconds later the two of them were standing in front of the safe, and a few seconds after that McKern and Rollins rounded the other corner, a printout clutched in the radio officer's hands, a grave look on his face.

The four men stared at each other in awkward silence, and after what felt like an eternity, McKern broke it “sir, I have a properly formatted message from the National Command Authority for strategic missile launch” he explained “-sir” he added awkwardly just before handing the printout to Rollins gor examination.

After a few more seconds of silence, he looked up at Ackerman, the color drained from his face “I concur, sir” he simply said.

Ackerman nodded gravely “authenticator” he said with a deep breath.

Both of the junior officers nodded “sir” they both said as McKern reached over to work the dial on the safe. His hands worked frantically to spin it to the right combination, and soon enough the door to the safe swung open to reveal a second door with another dial.

Wordlessly, the radio officer stepped aside and Rollins reached over and repeated the process again.

A few seconds later the second door was open, both men had a slight sheen of sweat on their faces and both of them appeared to be slightly short of breath, Ackerman suddenly realized that he had been holding his own breath and started to breath again. Without delay, Rollins reached into the safe and pulled out two items, one was the Captain's launch key, the other was the authenticator.

Rollins met his captain's gaze “requesting permission to authenticate” he said.

Ackerman gave a nod “permission granted, authenticate the message” came his reply.

Taking the authenticator in both hands, Rollins snapped the plastic sheath, pulled out the red card contained within, and began to read from it “echo, echo, baker, zulu, charlie, delta, delta, alpha, romeo, sierra” his voice was almost mechanical in nature.

McKern then read from the printout “ echo, echo, baker, zulu, charlie, delta, delta, alpha, romeo, sierra” he said.

Each word felt like a punch to the gut for Ackerman one more step toward armageddon he thought to himself. Although in reality, he knew that no matter what transpired on board his boat, actions well beyond the control of him or any of his crew would continue moving right along, almost as if to mock them.

The radio officer barely twitched a muscle as his gaze went back up to his captain “message is authentic captain” he said, again without emotion.

Like actors in a well rehearsed play, the other two officers played their parts “I concur sir” said Rollins.

“I concur sir” Sinclair said immediately afterward.

And just like that Ackerman and the other two officers brought their attention back to McKern who looked back down at the printout and read aloud:

“To the USS Henry M. Jackson SSBN-730, Enigma airborne elements have broken up into small groups of varying size and composition and begun moving outward from initial bases of operations en-mass in multiple directions. The aims and objectives of these forces are unknown but presumed to be hostile. All strategic and tactical nuclear forces have been ordered to assume condition RED GERONIMO. Specific orders of Henry M. Jackson are as follows:

1.)At exactly 1048 Zulu, launch twelve Trident missiles to detonate over the Gulf of Mexico at the coordinates 25.461792 by -88.374023 at an altitude of eight thousand feet above sea level.

2.)Hold depth and position and await further launch orders.”

McKern fell silent, then “sir, your missile key” he said as he handed over the key and lanyard which Ackerman accepted with a curt nod before putting it around his neck. The radio officer then turned and headed back the way which he had come.

Wordlessly, Ackerman turned and headed back toward the conn, the other two in tow.

The three of them entered the conn silently “Lieutenant Sikorski, I have the conn” Ackerman said as he passed through the hatch.

The Lieutenant nodded in assent “aye, the Captain has the conn” he said as he stepped aside to allow his captain back to his station.

Grabbing the handset on the growler, he flipped the switch for the boat-wide intercom, taking a deep breath, he slowly began to exhale before talking “this is the captain, orders have been received for missile launch. Set condition one-sq, spin up missiles thirteen through twenty-four, the use of nuclear weapons has been authorized. This is not a drill” he announced before handing the handset to Sinclair.

The XO paused and took a lengthy breath as he looked at Ackerman, then around the conn. Finally he raised the handset to his mouth and spoke “this is the XO, orders have been received for missile launch. Set condition one-sq, spin up missiles thirteen through twenty-four, the use of nuclear weapons has been authorized. This is not a drill.”

The next hour was filled with hurried activity, but none of it frantic. The crew had drilled the very actions they were undertaking time and time again, to the point that they all knew exactly what to do without question.

Every single man on board the boat knew exactly what was happening all over the world and what was about to happen. At that very moment, dozens of other ballistic missile submarines around the world under French, British, Russian, Chinese, and American flags were undergoing identical preparations, thousands of aircraft were scrambling, and millions of brave men and women around the world were getting ready to quite possibly breath their last breaths, and billions more people were watching their televisions or listening to radios as their governments told them to get ready for full scale war, quite possibly in their own backyards.

Very little was known about this new enemy, except that they had so far proven to possess capabilities quite far beyond anything the human race was able to do and that so far they had proven more than capable of handling any response that the combined military's of the world could throw at them. And while he would never say it out loud, and the powers that be quite similarly were tight lipped on the issue, it was widely accepted that under the current circumstances, it was entirely possible that the by the end of the day the war would be over, and the human race would be no more.

The one (very small) mercy, was the fact that their target was over the Gulf of Mexico, meaning that if any people were caught in the blast radius of these warheads, they would be relatively few in number, but then Ackerman's mind went to the remaining twelve missiles that were going to stay in their tubes after the first launch.

As he had been been briefed, he knew just what condition RED GERONIMO meant: enemy air elements were being broken up into smaller groups, thus diluting their ability to concentrate fire, and allowing for the possibility to get nuclear weapons through their defenses. However, due to a lack of knowledge of the true limits of their point defense capabilities, the initial nuclear weapons release would be somewhat limited, in order to allow for a second or possibly even third release of weapons to take care of any enemy forces that survived the first launch.

Yes, their orders meant that they would not be killing millions of people, but next time they received launch orders, it was all too likely that the target coordinates would be over a populated area, and worse, it would most likely be over their own country, not that the nationality of the victims mattered much when one was ordered to kill millions of people.

He wondered if their next launch orders would have them killing the families of his crew. The bitter irony of the situation was that despite being sworn to protect their country from every threat, they would very likely be killing millions of their own countrymen(and possibly even friends and family) in doing that duty.

“Conn, sonar, we've got contact. Contact is designated sierra-two.”

Pulled out of his own thoughts by the voice coming from the growler, Ackerman grabbed the handset “sonar, this is the captain, what do you have?” he asked.

There was a pause “...uh, that's a good question sir. Maybe you should come down here and take a look” came the reply.

Ackerman scowled “Chief Ibanez, we are thirty-two minutes away from missile launch” he said, annoyed.

“Understood sir, it's just that... I really think you should take a look at this.”

Without responding, Ackerman hung up the handset and headed toward the forward hatch “Commander Sinclair, you have the conn” he said on his way out.

*-*-*

“This better be damn important chief” Ackerman said as he entered the sonar room.

Chief Warrant Officer Ibanez gave him a nervous look “understood captain, it's just this contact. I've never seen anything quite like it before” he indicated the bank of monitors in front of him.

Ackerman glanced at the monitors before him as the Chief handed him a pair of headphones which he placed up to his ear, the sound he heard was indeed perplexing, it sounded like some kind of animal “biologic?” he said with a raised eyebrow.

The Chief shook his head “that's what I thought too, but it's far too deep and loud to be one” he furrowed his brow “now I slept through most of biology in high school, but I've never heard a whale make that kind of noise before, and the computer doesn't know what to make of it either” he explained.

Pulled out of his sense of impending dread for a moment “a sea monster Chief Ibanez?” he said with what could have almost been mistaken for a grin.

Ibanez gave a abrupt and nervous chuckle “I dunno sir” then his expression got a bit more serious “the only thing I do know for sure is that in order to make a noise like that, you would need something a hell of a lot bigger than any animal that I know of” he said.

The slight grin on Ackerman's face disappeared as he felt a deep sinking feeling in the pit of his stomach start to materialized.

*-*-*

Suddenly he is back in Bangor sitting in a conference room, sipping on the shitty coffee they serve there while some Lieutenant from ONI is droning on and on about some scattered reports from a gunnery officer on board the IIIDeweyIII and a couple sailors on some Japanese cruiser who claimed to have spotted some kind of creature drag a cargo ship down under the waves during the evacuation of Peru. There was no distress call from the cargo ship in question and no other sign as to the cause of its disappearance.

*-*-*

Back in the present, Ackerman realized that while he was somewhat dismissive of the claims made in the ONI briefing, he suddenly realized that he had been a fool not to at least take into account the possibility that the bozorgs had started fielding some kind of sea-going forces. Taking a deep breath and giving the contact another quick look he turned and faced the chief “alright, give me the details” he said.

“Right now it doesn't seem to be too interested in us, it is currently at a heading of about one-seven-five moving at a perpendicular course to our own, at a range of about eleven thousand yards , contact's speed seems to be somewhere around twenty knots.”

There was a pause, then “you want us to ping it?” asked Ibanez.

Ackerman shook his head “whatever it is, it doesn't seem interested in us, and I don't want that to change” he turned to head back to the conn “watch that thing like a hawk, if it so much as twitches I want to know about it” he said as he left the sonar room.

“Aye sir” replied Ibanez nervously.

*-*-*

About half an hour later he was standing in the conn, listening to the sound of the final missile in their salvo leave its tube.

For a moment, the entire conn sat in silence as each man there most likely came to the realization of just how much firepower they had launched off in such a short time.

Ackerman finally broke the silence “as you were gentlemen” he said to the men under his command before grabbing the growler handset and flipping it over to the sonar room “sonar, this is the Captain, what's the status on contact sierra-two?” he asked.

About a half a second later came the response “no aspect change from contact in the past ten minutes, looks like that last course correction was a false alarm” he explained.

Nodding in understanding “very well, carry on chief, you know what to do if that changes” he said before hanging up.

Attention returned to the helm “alright, let's get some more distance between ourselves and whatever the hell that thing is. Helm, change heading to oh-nine-five, make your depth four hundred feet, thirty degree down-angle, and make your speed all ahead half” he ordered.

The helm officer repeating the order in affirmation, Ackerman finally turned to Lieutenant Cleefeld at fire control and the two of them exchanged glances but no words. He was sure he had no need to explain the situation to him, but the unsaid command was clear 'no matter what it looks like it may be doing, if it so much as looks at us funny, blow the damn thing into orbit.'

Personally, he wondered if anything short of the nuclear ordinance in their missile tubes would be enough to take out that mysterious contact. He decided that he would perfectly happy if he never found out.





-10:07 AM March 30, 1988, Eastern Syunik Province, Armenia




Sweat poured down Ming's face, he was concentrating so hard that he didn't even notice it until some of it dripped into his eye, prompting him to quickly wipe it away as it stung him. His heart was pounding and he wasn't quite sure just how he was going to handle this situation, not like he was particularly adept at this sort of thing.

He closed his eyes and took a deep breath to steady his nerves.

With that accomplished, he opened his eyes again and flung himself forward. First one foot, then the other. Three steps later he swung his right leg back and with all his strength and concentration he sent the ball sailing up into the air over the tightly packed row of defenders. His eyes followed it as it hooked to the right in midair, he clenched his fists in anticipation as he watched the goalkeeper; an American Lieutenant named Tracy, throw himself at the ball... and just missing as it flew past his hands and between the two tanks they had positioned to act as their goalposts.

“YES!” Ming shouted as he threw his arms up in celebration, and with that the rest of his teammates ran forward to join him.

“Alright everybody, game's over!”

Colonel Yu was standing atop one of the new Huang Dis “time to get to work, the enemy has decided to come pay us a visit” he announced.

*-*-*

Ten minutes later Ming found himself climbing down through the main hatch into the crew compartment of his Huang Di. Despite the new(and comparatively spacious) crew compartments of the first production model Huang Dis which finally allowed the entire crew to all sit together for once, it was still just about as cramped as the old type 69 that he had been assigned to before the war.

Descending the last rung of the ladder, he crawled over to his seat and snatched his helmet off of it. With a gentle grunt he pulled it on and plugged in his radio “radio check, can everyone here me?” he asked while tightening the chinstrap.

The rest of his crew answered back in the affirmative as they too fitted their helmets “roger- understood” said Lieutenant Carter in broken Mandarin before following up with “apologies lieutenant, is a hard habit to break.”

Ming chuckled slightly “not to worry Lieutenant, despite the strange way it sounds, there is a certain charm to your slang” he replied. He was still a little hazy on the exact origin of that particular piece of vernacular, something to do with the English alphabet. Of course, by definition that meant that it was one of the more difficult pieces of vocabulary for him to understand, and getting to understand the Lieutenant was made all the more difficult by his incredibly thick accent.

Granted, Ming was well aware that his own English was hardly anything he would take pride in at the moment. Then things were only made all the more convoluted by the tendency that the entire squadron had adopted where they occasionally took to speaking in a rough mix of both English and Mandarin. It was almost a separate language unto itself.

The Lieutenant was one of the Americans that had been sent to their unit for training purposes in preparations for the eventual introduction of production models of American made versions of the Huang Di, and despite possessing equal rank to Ming(in fact having considerably more time in grade than he) for the duration of Carter's tour, he would be subordinate to Ming, a fact that he found some amusement at but did his best to keep said amusement from the Lieutenant.

Another look around the crew compartment, and Ming began a general inspection of the interior of his vehicle “status report” he said toward his crew which was answered with various positive responses. Then he gave his own status panel a quick look with its various LED indicators to make sure that everything was in order before heading back up the ladder.

With a nod to no one in particular, he switched over to the squadron channel “this is vehicle three, all systems are status green” he announced before heading back up the ladder.

The sounds of ten other vehicle commanders reported in to Colonel Yu a similar status and in the space of just about two minutes they were all moving in single file down the dilapidated road that had once been a well traveled highway.

Ming glanced westward in the direction that they were headed and he could see the occasional flash reflected in the sparse cloud cover over the horizon, and just like that all of his thoughts about pride and marvel at the beauty of their vehicles had faded with thoughts of what was coming for them out there and if any of them would live to see the next day, a feeling of uncertainty the likes of which he had not encountered since that fateful day in Xinjang.


Two vehicle crews had not survived on top two type 88 tanks and he still didn't know how many fighter pilots, and that was just from that day, all in the interest of taking out one enemy target. Many more brave men and women had not managed to make it to this particular day, and chances were that many more would be joining their fallen comrades before the next sunset. There wasn't much for him to do about that anyway, so he turned his attention to the task they had been given, it was the best he could do.

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 Post subject: Re: Godforsaken Future(now back from hiatus) PostPosted: 2012-11-02 11:05pm
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Jedi Master
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Joined: 2006-12-11 10:44pm
Posts: 1380
Location: Rhode Island
Oh hell yes, I was wondering if this was dead or not.



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 Post subject: Re: Godforsaken Future(now back from hiatus) PostPosted: 2012-11-03 03:02am
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Padawan Learner

Joined: 2010-02-24 11:07pm
Posts: 179
Location: Philippines
Aieeeeee!

Hurray!

It ain't dead!

AIIIEEEHH!

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 Post subject: Re: Godforsaken Future(now back from hiatus) PostPosted: 2012-11-08 06:19am
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Redshirt

Joined: 2012-08-29 12:31pm
Posts: 31
Nice! I was waiting for a new chapter and it was worth the wait. Now i hope the next chapter won't take as long as the last one ;).

Keep up the great work guest.

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 Post subject: Re: Godforsaken Future(now back from hiatus) PostPosted: 2012-12-09 05:51pm
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Youngling

Joined: 2009-12-19 10:47am
Posts: 108
Hey mr. guest

Will there be more of this story??

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 Post subject: Re: Godforsaken Future(now back from hiatus) PostPosted: 2013-11-29 04:33pm
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Youngling

Joined: 2010-03-22 02:14pm
Posts: 148
New update guys. I had to power through some serious writers' block for this one, but here you go:


Episode 36




“How would you know if you were the last man on Earth? He said.
I don't guess you would know it. You'd just be it.”
-Cormac McCarthy





-3:12 AM March 30, 1988, Pensacola, Florida, United States




The single florescent light in the room flickered once as Norman released the die in his hand come on, I just need a twelve he pleaded at the twenty sided piece of plastic. His concentration was focused all on that one throw, and the consequences of its results. If he managed to pass the dexterity check, he would be home free, with the extra loot and all the XP he had accumulated in this branch of the dungeon.

Likewise, his four compatriots stared equally as intently. None of them had thought he would have managed to fight his way through such a massive horde of beasts. Especially not Rob.

The pale dungeon master was the only one in the room that wore a look of utter aggravation on his face. Of course he had designed the dungeon to act as more of a late stage challenge in this adventure, not a way to quickly sidestep much of the early experience grinding that he had intended for them.

Of course, Norman wondered if he would come to regret this decision, no one wanted to have a pissed off DM on their case, especially not with a significant portion of the game left to go. His thoughts on the issue trailed off however as he watched the die hit the tattered coffee table and bounce once, twice, then three times before coming to a rest.

He rolled a 14.

In almost perfect unison, all of the occupants of the dimly lit basement burst into a collection of loud cheers(with the exception of the now thoroughly pissed off Rob who cursed almost loud enough to drown out the rest of the group).

In a fit of triumph, Norman's hands hung in the air, a gesture of sheer unadulterated satisfaction.

In a bit of unfortunate irony, the act of role playing had turned into a sort of ritualistic custom for the small group of friends somewhat, as many of their parents had come to fear about the game when they had first started playing about five years previously. Not that any of them had felt the least bit of desire to go join a satanic cult or hold midnight orgies by the moonlight, but in recent months it had taken up an increasingly important role in each of their lives.

Though, even their own parents; for all their initial fears, could hardly blame the group of friends. Why not indulge one's self in a fantasy world, there was little in the real world to look forward to anymore. With electricity rations as strict as they were, there was little video game playing these days.

The act of watching television was also increasingly rare. Not entirely because of the electricity rationing, but largely because there was little worth watching. The news was either unbelievably depressing or so chopped up and full of fluff that it was more or less meaningless. There were the regular PSA's regarding civil defense procedures(some of the networks were even reusing duck-and-cover videos from back in the fifties) which were equally meaningless. Finally there was a mix between reruns and poorly written and even more poorly financed weekly serials which had taken on a distinct “sickeningly sweet and optimistic” feel to it. Everybody knew that it was little more than propaganda to keep public morale up, but no one bothered to complain anymore as everyone needed it to balance out the depressing nature of reality.

Either that, or they just didn't care.

They could always take up two hours out of the day to go to the library to get a book. Of course this all assumed that the last remaining librarian hadn't been let go or furloughed as part of increasing budget cuts. Organized sports were out of the question for this group, none of whom much cared for them. After-school programs had equally fallen to budget cuts(of course electric rationing meant that the lights would usually be turned off at school an hour after it let out).

So that left their regular game of Dungeons & Dragons.

“Damn Norman, I thought for sure that you'd have gotten nailed by that last trap on the way out” said Megan Tilly(the lone girl of the group) with a wide grin on her face.

He shook his head slowly as he put his arms down “well it sure got hairy there for a minute, but I never doubted I'd-”

He was cut off by Rob “this quest is far from over, and you should never get too overconfident, death lurks around every corner in these dark tunnels” he said ruefully. Norman wished he had a camera to snap a photo of the scowling dungeon master. In the sickly green florescent lighting, he almost resembled a fowl tempered orc(minus the unpleasant dental work of course).

A slight pang of panic cut through his euphoria as Norman considered the faint risk that he would come to regret this particular act of sequence breaking. Rob was a rather forgiving DM, though he had been known to unleash some rather unexpected punishment when the players in a particular game started to get too unruly. Acting fast to hide his disconcerting feeling, Norm put on a good-natured smile “yeah, I know you didn't quite plan on that, but ya gotta admit that was pretty badass, I mean who else-”

The distant sound of air-raid sirens cut through the conversation, interrupting him yet again, causing an uneasy silence to fill the room.

They each looked at each other with a nervous expression, each with that unsaid question in their eyes 'is it another drill?' they each found themselves too afraid to ask.

The antiquated siren meant one of two things, and each of them knew it. Either it was an unscheduled drill(still possible even at this late hour), or it meant a real live attack. There had been two such unscheduled drills that month, and one only three days prior. There had never been two drills so close to each other before.

Taking a slow, ragged breath, Rob got up and walked over to the beat up old wood-paneled Panasonic TV set in the corner and hit the power button. The screen displayed static.

A pregnant silence hung in the room as Rob turned the UHF knob until he reached a channel. It didn't take long before he found the first station. Norman could practically feel the mood in the room shift as a color bars and two-tone audio track of a test pattern stared back at them.

They were all given just enough time to exchange worried glances before the image changed to one of a blue podium with the Presidential Seal on it. They all gawked at the screen as a haggard looking Ronald Reagan made his way to the center of the screen and faced the camera. Gripping the sides of the podium, the ancient looking man cleared his throat. Though it was clear that he was doing his best to look calm, Norman could tell that there was worry in the President's eyes. He started to speak “my fellow Americans-” he began.

*-*-*

Ten minutes later, Norman threw the front door to his house open and almost bounded through the doorway “Mom?! Dad?!” he shouted. The living room was dark, but he could see light creeping through the hallway leading to the dining room near the back and from under the door to the kitchen. He heard a muffled sound of commotion coming from elsewhere in the house, but he couldn't quite pinpoint the origin, he looked around almost in desperation before deciding to head for the kitchen.

Just as he reached the door, it opened so violently that if he had been a half step faster, it would have smacked him right in the face “Norman? Oh, thank god” his mom was staring right at him, a look of concern and relief in her eyes.

Letting out a sigh of relief himself, Norman met his mother with a firm embrace “where are Dad and Lisa?” he asked with concern.

Taking a second longer, his mother released him and pulled back “Lisa was having a sleepover at Kendra's place, after the we heard the alarm, we turned on the TV and saw what the President had to say-” she trailed off as the a fighter jet rumbled by overhead, causing the windows to rattle in their frames. After it passed, she turned to look at Norman again “your father took the Volvo and went to pick her up” she explained. Another jet flew by, this time a bit more distantly.

Obviously seeing the question in his eyes, she answered before he got the chance to ask it “we've been saving about a third of a tank of gas for an emergency” she stole another glance outside “if this doesn't count, I don't know what does” she said with a humorless smirk, just as a third jet flew by, much closer.

Nodding, he turned to head to into the kitchen “what do you need me to do?” he asked.

“Well, we need-”

She wasn't able to finish her response as another sound interrupted her, this time it wasn't a jet, but what could only be described as an explosion. It wasn't quite as close as the last jet, but it was certainly close enough to vibrate a candle holder off of a nearby bookshelf and onto the floor with a thud. A feeling of dread filled him as he and his mother exchanged worried glances.

They didn't waste time dwelling on the situation though “I've been getting together some food and other things which we may need, but I want you to go into your room and your sister's, grab some clothes, and put them in a suitcase” she ordered.

Nodding, he started to turn and leave before stopping himself “mom?” he said, prompting her to also pause and look at him with a questioning look “I love you” he finished.

Meeting his gaze with a warm smile “I know, I love you too” she said just before more jets rumbled by and shook the whole house.




-9:36 AM March 30, 1988, somewhere over the Mediterranean Ocean




G-forces kicked him in the gut as Jean banked sharply out of the way of another volley of enemy bolts, narrowly avoiding certain death. Spotting one of the enemy interceptors just above him at about three kilometers. By now, the ranges between human and Enigma aircraft had shrunken to near knife fighting range and the combat was as brutal as he had ever seen it since the start of the war, but then that was where the enemy was at a disadvantage.

Gripping the stick tighter, he pulled the nose of his aircraft up and nudged the throttle up to accelerate toward his new target which did not appear to have noticed him yet. This did not last as it made a sudden and sharp turn as if to evade, but he was ready for it. A slight adjustment to his own heading and he was now leading his target, he just had to wait for that critical moment when both craft were in the right position- there!

He squeezed the trigger, unleashing a brief hail of cannon fire which streaked out to meet the otherworldly enemy, its progress marked by bright white tracers. Not waiting to see if his shot connected, he immediately swung his aircraft around to avoid the inevitable volley of enemy weapons fire, and was rewarded by the bright orange flash in his peripheral vision indicating that his target had been hit.

It had become standard practice that no matter what was going on, all pilots would immediately take to making random maneuvers upon entering the firing range of enemy craft, as any plane that held course for too long found itself the recipient of a flurry enemy fire.

A quick visual survey of the immediate area showed what could only be described as pure chaos. Hundreds of both human and alien aircraft danced with each other in the air, lobbing hot death at each other with seemingly reckless abandon. Occasional explosions blossomed in midair, signifying the end of either a human or Enigma life. All the while, one of the gargantuan enemy warships floated ponderously off to the south about eighty kilometers away, it's massive spires taking up a significant portion of his field of view. While it seemed to be standing still, it was actually moving at well over two hundred kilometers per hour, inexorably northward.

He cursed mentally. The damn things were so massive, what could they do to such a monstrosity?

He pondered this thought as he executed yet another sharp maneuver, that's when he spotted something.

Directly above the warship, he saw what looked like nothing more than large buzzing insects, but which his radar scope told him were actually a formation of the “small” aircraft carrier sized warships(codenamed: dreadnaughts).

Perhaps if he didn't possess a weapon big enough to hurt the one of these flying monstrosities, perhaps he could...

Inspiration struck him almost as if out of nowhere “this is Colonel Primeau, any aircraft that are able to, form on me. We're going to kill that big bastard!” he almost shouted over the radio.

Three aircraft responded in short order, their pilots enthusiastically asking what the plan was “there is no time to explain, just do as I say and follow my lead” he commanded. He could almost hear the raised eyebrows in each pilot's voice as they answered him.

“First, we're going to climb up to eighteen thousand meters, directly above that fucker!” he directed as he nudged his joystick. Needless to say, it was easier said than done as all four aircraft were forced to execute multiple sharp turns to avoid hostile fire and other enemy aircraft.

No plan going off seamlessly; an enemy interceptor took interest in Jean and his comrades and followed them up, forcing one of his impromptu wingmen to peel off to deal with the interloper. As they neared the apex of their climbing maneuver, Jean explained the rest of his plan “I want to knock one or more of those dreadnaughts out of the sky in the hope that it will smack into the city ship on its way down” he felt himself get lighter as he started to level off his ascent “on my order, I want you both to swoop on down, pick a target and unload everything you have at it” he ordered, to which both pilots responded in the affirmative.

Reaching the desired height “execute!” he commanded just before pushing his joystick forward and going into a steep dive.

His stomach leaped up into his throat as he suddenly went from feeling like an elephant was sitting on his chest to being virtually weightless, and despite his years experience in the cockpit, it was still a somewhat disorienting sensation. A light show played out in front of his eyes as numbers and symbols flew across his cockpit canopy in bright green vector graphics.

As the deep blue of the sky up above gave way to the much deeper blue of the Mediterranean below, his view filled with the apocalyptic display of sophisticated machines; both man-made and alien as they struggled against each other for survival, and directly ahead(or more accurately, below) was the massive city-sized ship; it's glistening metallic spires splayed outward like the arms of a monstrously sized starfish.

Taking the tiniest fraction of a second to regain his bearings, he saw his target, the one in the middle of the formation. From this angle it took the form of an elongated cylinder that tapered at either end, dozens of small spindly structures jutting out from its surface, resembling some kind of flying metal insect; an insect the size of an oil tanker.

The enemy had not failed to notice Jean and his two remaining companions as they started their run, signified by the sudden appearance of oncoming weapons fire originating from both the city-ship and the dreadnaughts.

Not waiting to see if their aim was accurate, he and his two wingmen immediately took evasive action, pitching and juking their planes to give their approach an unpredictable trajectory. The column of an Enigma beam weapon lashed out, trying to swat them from the sky, however, it was equally as disadvantaged at dealing with erratically moving targets as the bolt weapons were.

Jean cursed as a bolt flew by so closely that he was certain that there were singe marks on his fuselage. That was too close, and he had to take at least a few seconds to straighten out and gain a lock on his target. Taking an instant to glance down at the dreadnought formation, he saw that they had retargeted their efforts elsewhere for the moment, apparently whatever intelligence was controlling them had deemed that a single salvo was enough, he was certain to make them pay for that oversight and nudged his aircraft back into alignment with his target, lining his aiming reticule up on the dreadnaught, waiting for that rewarding sound.

The seconds ticked by at what felt like a glacial pace as he waited for his targeting computer to run the calculations. He cursed again when he saw more weapons fire directed his way. The Enigmas had taken notice once again.

He made no deviation from his course this time, the distance was down to less then ten thousand meters, he would not get another chance at this.

The passage of time was seemingly non-existent now. Now there were not just seconds ticking by, but dozens of oncoming bolts of white hot death hurtling in his direction.

Lock you motherfucking bastard, lock on!

He could have almost felt his profanity laden demands as if they were physical objects he was firing like projectiles from his mind. By now the bolts looked as though they were filling his entire field of view, and he was certain that he would either have to peel off or die, either case would have resulted in failure. Then the reticule turned green and the sound of a weapons-lock tone rang in his ears. He jammed his thumb down on the missile firing button on his joystick “fox-three!” he managed to shout after the fact, and two barracuda missiles leaped out from under his wings, trailing bright white columns of exhaust.

The barracuda missile was a modified exocet missile, with an updated guidance system and control surfaces designed to allow them to engage airborne targets. It was not the ideal role for the weapon, but they were one of the few pieces of ordinance that could pack the kind of punch needed to take on the larger Enigma craft.

He had just enough time to spot an additional two missiles throw themselves out toward the enemy before jerking his joystick to the left and execute a jarring roll just in time to see a bolt fly by and pass through the spot where his plane had been less than a second before. One of his comrades had not been so fortunate and a bright orange explosion signified the death of the unfortunate man.

The range had now shrunk to less than five kilometers and was still shrinking fast. Swinging outward in order to get some horizontal distance between himself and the targets, he realigned his craft with them but with a shallower dive. Executing yet another sharp maneuver, he evaded yet another volley of weapons fire and brought his nose to bear on the dreadnaught just in time to see his missiles impact and detonate, engulfing almost a full third of it in a fiery explosion.

By the time he noticed that it had started to lose altitude, he was within gun range and squeezed the trigger, unleashing an extended burst of cannon fire which tore into its metallic skin, and at this range he was able to make out the destruction he was inflicting on his victim in quite a lot of detail. Unidentified structures and devices arrayed on the craft's exterior exploded and shattered as 30 mm slugs tore into them at over 800 meters a second.

He was so focused on the act of killing the enemy ship that he almost failed to notice that the other two missiles had likewise hit their targets and a second dreadnaught was also in flames. He also almost failed to notice that the sudden loss of control caused by whatever damage he had wrought on his own target brought it into a collision course with its undamaged neighbor.

When the range had shrunk down to less than five hundred meters, he released the trigger and yanked hard on his joystick, managing to just barely avoid head on collision with the flaming enemy craft a fraction of a second before it collided with its neighbor, engulfing them both in a massive explosion.

His plane shook violently and groaned in protest as it was hammered by the shock wave from the explosion and the force of its own inertia. Jean's vision blurred as the g-forces mounted and alarms rang in his ears. Neither he nor his plane were meant to execute such a turn, but he had little choice.

The city-ship was now taking up his entire field of view, and he was certain his luck had run out just before the nose of his craft managed to level out at what must have been of range of less than fifty meters, and the surface of the city-ship streaked by beneath him too fast to comprehend.

As he started to pull away he realized that the sound he was hearing wasn't alarms, but the cheers of his squadron mates, and when he looked in the direction of where he had just been, he saw that a giant explosion had erupted from one of the spires on the city-ship and it had broken in two, sending a kilometer long piece plummeting to the ocean below.

Suddenly he was reminded of that promise of sorts that he had made himself before taking off that morning.

No, there wasn't any guarantee that he or even the human race would survive that day, but he had managed to make the enemy pay. For the first time in a long while, and maybe the last time in his life, he smiled.




-4:42 PM March 30, 1988, Xixia District, Ningxia Hui Autonomous Region, Peoples Republic of China




Bo cursed under his breath as he almost tripped over another stump. These cursed hills were covered in these little stumps. The workers at his father's farm had been making preparations to convert this into a soy field over a year ago, before most of the workforce had been conscripted into the Army. Now the area was just a weed-infested eyesore.

“I am going to give you two black eyes if this is not good Li” he complained to his friend up ahead.

The two ten year old boys were making their way across this overgrown stretch of land because Li had managed to convince Bo that he had spotted something “incredible” out here, needless to say, with each passing annoyance, he was getting increasingly skeptical.

His friend waved his hand in an annoyed fashion “keep quiet! It's just over on the other side of this ridge” he hissed back excitedly. Bo merely shook his head and let out a sigh of exhasperation sure it's here, that and the lost treasures of the last emperor he thought derisively.

With the top of the ridge just another fifteen meters distant, Li slowed his pace and crouched down into what must have been intended as a sneaking posture. After a brief look back at him, so did Bo.

When his friend reached the top of the ridge, he went down into a prone position and crawled the last meter or two up to the top and peaked his head over the edge just before ducking back down suddenly “it's still here!” he whispered.

Half believing his friend and half skeptical, Bo likewise crouched down and then crawled up to the top of the ridge and poked his head over the edge and almost did a double take at what he saw.

Down below was some kind of... thing, resembling a giant metal plate covered in dozens of different machines and contraptions. It was about the size of a house and perched on the ground “what do you think it is?” asked Li.

Bo shrugged “why do you think I would know? I've never seen anything like it” he responded just before giving him an annoyed thump on the shoulder.

Almost as if in response, the machinery on the thing down there suddenly stopped their motions, then started again, but in different directions. Each boy stared down in shock and a bit of fear, wondering at just what was going to happen next. They didn't have to wait long.

Seconds later, a seam appeared near the bottom of the mystery object which started to widen, creating an opening that eventually grew large enough to be able to fit several grown men walking through it all at once.

In stunned silence, both boys watched as a group of very large, strangely dressed men emerged from the opening, one at a time, until there were eight of them.

Each of the men were looking around, possibly for any signs of life. Not wishing to be found, both boys quickly ducked back behind the ridge “I know what those are!” hissed Li “they're those strange alien devils that invaded Mongolia!” he explained with an alarmed expression on his face.

Curiosity gripped Bo, he had never seen one of those alien devils before and failed to get a good look this time, he started to peek over the ridge. Alarmed, Li grabbed his wrist, causing Bo to fall on his face “ow!” he said, looking up at his friend with anger “why did you do that?”

Li gave him a shove “are you stupid? If they see us here, they'll kill us! Didn't you hear about what they did in Mongolia?” his whispers were almost loud enough to be a shout.

Shaking his head, Bo dusted off his shirt “I'm gonna be really quiet and do it really quick, don't worry. I just want another peek” he reassured Li who was being the skeptical one this time.

Eyeing his friend for a second longer he started to climb up to the ridge again “don't worry, it'll be fine” he said. Poking his head over the ridge, Bo had just enough time to see one of the devils looking in his direction with one of his arms raised and pointing right at him. It was the last thing he saw before his head was obliterated in a cloud of red mist, bits of bone, and brain matter. He didn't even have time to hear the weapon discharging, much less the sound of Li screaming at the top of his lungs.




-5:08 AM March 30, 1988, Guane, Pinar del Rio, Cuba




Blood dripped down from the fresh gash in his forehead as Lieutenant Fred Zucker dodged an attack from the enigma soldier “come on you fucker, is that all you got!?” he shouted at it in challenge.

His enemy gave no indication that it understood him and simply responded by bringing its blade down in another slashing move which Fred was just barely able to dodge. His luck ran out when his foot found something squishy and wet, causing him to slip and fall right on his ass.

Thinking fast, he rolled out of the way of another attack, then kicked at the Enigma's ankle with all of his might. It was just enough to make the creature lose its footing and likewise come tumbling onto the ground. Feeling around quickly, he found a rifle that someone had dropped(probably their last living act) and in one swift motion, scooped up the weapon, swung it around, and jammed the barrel up under the enigma's chin, pulling the trigger. Sparks flew and the back of its head exploded as the bullets came out the other side, ending its life and its struggles.

Wiping the blood out of his eyes, he surveyed his surroundings. The streets were littered with dozens of dead bodies, both human and enigma. There was a flaming Humvee down the block, right next to a downed Enigma gunship which had crashed into a building right across the street. There were about a half dozen soldiers, all Cuban, firing at the three remaining Enigma soldiers as they suicidally charged them from about a block and a half away.

Only a couple of his Marines were left at this point. Despite the fact that they had managed to secure the area against significant enemy pressure, the Enigmas has exacted a heavy price for that success. A quick headcount revealed that out of an original force of one hundred fifty Cubans and Americans, there were only about forty of them still combat effective.

Of the casualties, the ones that weren't dead probably would be soon enough. The low hum of a nearby passing enemy aircraft was an audible reminder that evacuating the wounded by air was a nonstarter and it was not a good bet that anything larger than a bicycle would be able to avoid death from above for long under the current circumstances.

All things considered though, it could have been worse; much, much worse.

Taking a deep breath, he got to his feet, reloaded, and looked around for the highest ranking Cuban. After about thirty seconds of searching, he spotted a rather young looking Sergeant.

He checked the weapon in his hands as he walked over to the young man, maybe no older than twenty. Of course they were all young, both the Marines and Cuban soldiers alike, too damn young. It was always that way though, even back in 'Nam.

Shaking the thought from his head he nodded toward the Cuban “Aguirre, are you fit?” he barked.

Sergeant Aguirre took a deep breath as he too checked his own weapon “that is affirmative sir” he replied in a thick accent.

Fred nodded in acknowledgment “good, let's get all the wounded taken care of and get a sitrep of everyone who is still able to fight, then do a weapons check. See what we have to work with” he commanded.

Aguirre surveyed their surroundings for a second, almost as if he could glean everything they needed to know at a glance “right away sir” he responded before turning to shout something in Spanish behind him.

Turning to find his Sergeant McHale, Fred stopped himself and looked back at Aguirre “and good work Sergeant, you Cubans sure do fight like real bastards” he said with a grin.

The Cuban Sergeant opened his mouth as if to respond wasn't able to as the entire area was suddenly bathed in blinding white light.

Neither man had the time to realize what was happening to them as they were carbonized in an instant by the detonation of a two-hundred-fifty kiloton nuclear explosion directly overhead. Though it would have been a small consolation to them, but the explosion that had been the end of them either destroyed or crippled every Enigma aircraft within a seven kilometer radius of the explosion as well as effectively ending the Enigma incursion into Western Cuba.




-4:22AM March 30, 1988, Cosoleacaque, Veracruz, Mexico





A nearby explosion shook the ground and showered Marc in rubble. He decided not to let it bother him as he peered around the corner of the building, rifle in hand, to spy the pair of Enigma soldiers heading in his direction. Picking out his target, he started to raise his weapon.

An arm grabbed him by the back of his BDU, throwing him off balance. A sharp pain shot up from his shoulder, followed by the blunt pain of something slamming into his face. Next thing he knew, he was face down on the ground, a faint taste of blood in his mouth. He barely had time to realize this before being deafened by a loud blast that seamed to come almost from inside his head right before getting pelted yet again by another volley of debris.

Confused, disoriented, and surprised, he rolled over readying his weapon to fire at an unseen assailant. Except his hands were empty. Fortunately he came face to face, not with an Enigma, but someone human, a young girl-

A young girl?

His first impression was that she was a local civilian due to her dark complexion, but then he noticed her uniform, and Lance Corporal stripes and suddenly he began to regain his bearings.

Her mouth was moving, but the ringing in his ears prevented him from being able to understand anything more than the general gist of what she was saying. Feeling the familiar weight of his M16 being pressed into his hands, he managed to venture a guess as to the answer she was looking for. He looked her in the eyes and nodded “I'm fit Lance Corporal, just got this ringing in my ears!” he shouted.

*-*-*

Kelly nodded back at the young PFC who was starting to pick himself up off of the pavement, weapon in hand.

Private Compton was shouting as he fired over the trunk of the sedan at the skinnies down the road. Not hesitating, she popped her head over the hood and gave a quick look before ducking back down behind it.

Three skinnies, two had clearly been wounded by Compton's rifle fire. Readying her own weapon, she launched herself over the top and took aim at what appeared to be the most heavily wounded one, its own weapon already up and ready to fire. She didn't give it the chance to do so and lined up her sights on one one of the 'sweet spots' in its torso.

She squeezed the trigger.

Her muzzle flashed, her rifle barked, and the butt kicked her in the shoulder. An orange-red liquid splattered out from a couple fresh wounds in the enemy's body. It swung around, stumbled, and then fell to the ground, seemingly dead. Surprised that her target had gone down so easily, she didn't waste the time to ruminate on that before turning her attention to the uninjured one. It's weapon already up and aimed, she didn't need long to realize what it was aiming at.

“Co-”

Private Compton's words were cut short as the skinny weapon fired, and the young Marine's head and part of his left shoulder ceased to exist. Blood, pieces of bone, and other unidentifiable bits splattered all over her.

No time to lament the death, she shifted her aim to the late Private's killer. The thunderous popping of another M16 firing told her that her other comrade had opened fire as well. Together, they gunned down one attacker, then switched their aim to the other.

*-*-*

Their feet pounded against the pavement, Marc breathing heavily, he felt like he had been running forever. Spotting a skinny off to the left rounding a corner, he shouted at the top of his lungs and skidded to a halt, took aim, and let loose a burst from his rifle. The Enigma soldier staggered but recovered. Lance Corporal Vasquez was right next to him and the barking of her weapon told Marc that she had taken his lead.

After unloading an entire magazine, he ejected it and slapped another one into place and continued firing. Nine rounds later, the skinny soldier was on the ground. Picking up the pace, they started running again, heading for the formation of sandbags up ahead that signified the makeshift platoon CP.

Suddenly, the telltale sound of screeching metal and electrical whining rang in his ears. Looking in the direction of the sound, he didn't have to wait long to see the ominous outline of a skinny crab walker emerging from behind an apartment building about a block away. Its blue metallic armor glinted in the morning sunlight. The turret on its 'head' swiveled in their direction.

Not waiting to see what happened next, the two of them dove behind an overturned cargo van. His teeth rattled in his skull as the crabs main weapon fired, seemingly shaking the entire universe. Then the entire world seemed to explode.

Marc wasn't sure what exactly happened next, he only knew that he was dragging himself to his feet about seven yards down the street from where he was, the van was nowhere to be seen, and the crab was a smoldering ruin. Deciding that discovering what had caused the death of the skinny vehicle wasn't that important, he finished rising to his feet, picked up his weapon and ran over to the Lance Corporal who he helped to her feet.

Seconds later they were climbing into the CP.

There were about four people inside the CP, two Mexican Army regulars and three Marines. He recognized Lieutenant Barrett who was being treated for a rather serious looking wound by a corpsman.

A look over at the Mexican soldier who was reloading a BGM-71D told him what had killed the crab. The other Mexican was helping the only other Marine fire a BMG .50 down the street at an unseen enemy.

*-*-*

Kelly crawled over to the Lieutenant “Sir! What are our orders!?” she barked at him.

Lieutenant Barrett groaned loudly as the corpsman was pressing some gauze onto a still bleeding wound in his chest “goddamnit Vasquez! This situation is royally fucked. As far as I can tell, we're all that's left of the platoon, fucking skinnies are gonna overrun the whole position!” he growled.

Vasquez took a deep breath as she surveyed the ramshackle looking CP, things were grim indeed, the Lieutenant continued “but we have to hold! We're covering the-” a coughing fit interrupted his explanation “-left flank of the 12th Armored Division, they're trying to pull back, but- but if the Skinnies break through, it'll be a massacre.”

“we've been holding out against what looks like better than a battalion of Skinny infantry and armor. I don't know how many of them are left, or how much longer the 12th needs, but we have to call in fire support-”

He succumbed to another coughing fit, then “-air, arty, doesn't matter. Anything to kill as many of those fuckers as we can and pray that it buys the 12th some time to get out!” a glance over at the smashed AN/PRC 77 laying on the ground told her what was coming next “our radio is out of commission, but there might be a working one about a hundred yards down the street” he said, angling his head to indicate the direction “Corporal Stannis was carrying a manpack when the last wave of skinnies came in. I haven't seen any sign of him, but the SINCGARS set he had may still be in working order” he explained before coughing again.

She looked in the indicated direction before meeting his gaze again, his expression was grim “you are going to have to make your way down to Stannis' last position and bring his manpack back with you so we can call in that support.”

Kelly took about half a second before nodding “aye sir, be back before you can say rubarb pie” she said before heading out of the CP. Private Dickens looked up at her as if to follow “sit tight private” she ordered “those are my orders, not yours” she concluded before poking her head over the sandbags at the rubble strewn street. Despite the lack of apparent Skinny presence, it didn't look too welcoming “fucking wonderful” she muttered to herself before leaping up over the barrier.

She realized right then that she had felt surprisingly calm from the moment she had entered combat that morning. Even more striking was that she couldn't exactly remember feeling much in the way of fear last time she saw combat in Uzbekistan and wondered just when the last time she felt anything was.

No time to ponder that, she pushed the thought aside as she leaped over what was left of a dead body. The position was about fifty yards out and getting closer. Sidestepping around a smoldering tank, she almost tripped over another dead body but managed to keep her balance.

Forty yards.

Suddenly the sound of another crab echoed through the streets, and almost too fast for such a massive thing to possibly move, the offending machine pulled around a half collapsed office building eight blocks down the street.

Thirty yards.

She could see it's turret align to aim in her direction. Almost as if preplanned, a TOW missile streaked past her head at an all-too-close-for-comfort distance.

Any hope she had at salvation from her comrades in arms were dashed when the missile impacted into an until-then untouched news stand, destroying it in a fiery explosion.

Twenty yards.

She felt the violent vibrations almost as soon as she saw the bright blue flash of the skinny weapon firing. The world disappeared in a bright flash, deafening blast, and scorching heat.

She didn't know how she managed to keep her balance, but when her senses returned, she was still running, the building to her right was a collapsed flaming ruin, and her destination was closer still.

Ten yards.

Realizing that she might still make it, she threw all of her energy into her run. She could see in between the sandbag barriers. There were four bodies in there, none moved. She also spotted the manpack, seemingly intact, Corporal Stannis was still wearing it strapped to his back.

Five yards.

Tossing her rifle ahead, she didn't run so much as leap the last few feet. Taking one last step she dove headfirst in between the sandbags. Landing almost face-first on top of the body of a dead Mexican Army Lieutenant.

Another explosion rocked the street, not as close as the last one, but still jarring nonetheless.

She didn't waste any time and maneuvered herself within the small foxhole. Bumping up against a lifeless foot, she paused as she realized that it wasn't wearing combat boots, but a beat-up Nike high top. It belonged to a kid, no older than twelve, wearing a tattered green t-shirt and jeans. Poor kid, must have gotten lost in the evacuation, he even looked like-

She quickly buried the thought with a curt shake of her head and turned toward the dead Corporal. A quick inspection revealed that it was in good working order, no holes in it. Satisfied that she hadn't made the perilous journey down the street for nothing, she flipped his body over and began working on the shoulder straps, trying to pull the manpack off of him.

Another nearby explosion rocked the ground. This one wasn't as massive as the shot from the crab. It only took her about a half a second to realize that it was one of the slugs from a skinny hand weapon.

Shit, gotta hurry.

Her pinky finger got caught on something on the Corporal's BDU, bending it in the wrong direction, sending a sharp pain up her arm, she ignored it as she worked his left arm out from the strap on the manpack.

One of the sandbags to her left fell down into the foxhole, drawing her attention to the skinny soldier lunging at her, blade at the ready.

Her mind worked furiously right then, seemingly slowing down the world around her to a crawl. She knew her rifle was too far away to reach in time, and there were no other weapons within easy reach either. Those options exhausted, she went to non-conventional means, blunt objects, maybe something sharp-

Cutting that thought off, her right hand reflexively went down to her k-bar, pulling it free with a quick jerking motion just in time for her to have to roll out of the way of a stabbing motion from the Skinny. Responding in kind, she plunged her own weapon up into its abdomen with a well aimed jab between armor plates. It was tough, and seemed to take all of her strength, but she managed to plant the blade of her k-bar about a quarter of the way in. It took almost as much strength for her to yank it free again before dodging another attack, barely managing to avoid getting disemboweled.

Things weren't looking good, there wasn't enough room to maneuver, and her opponent was far stronger and more durable than she was.

The Skinny started positioning for another strike when it stumbled over one of the dead bodies. Taking the cue, she went down onto her back, planted her fists in the earth below and kicked at its left foot with all of her strength.

Arms flailing, the Skinny lost its remaining balance, falling forward right onto Kelly. Sharp pains rang like alarm bells throughout her body, one in her left side far more than the others as the full weight of the alien warrior came down on top of her.

She had never seen one fall over, so she didn't quite know how it would react when it lost its balance.

She found out as she felt it seemingly spasm and seize, sending more sharp pains through her body, especially in her side. Likewise, Kelly started her own struggles, pulling her right arm free, she reached around her opponent and slipped the k-bar right under the tube connected to the Skinny's head, and cut it with a sharp motion, ending the struggle.

Now nothing more than dead weight, the Skinny soldier felt even heavier, threatening to squeeze the breath right out of her.

Using her whole body, she started rocking left and right, trying to build up momentum. The sharp pain in her torso got worse with each motion, and her restricted breathing only made it harder, but with enough work, she managed to roll the body off of her. It was then that she realized that she was wounded.

The Skinny blade had embedded itself into her torso, the pain in her side ratcheted up sharply as it pulled out, causing blood to squirt out onto the dirt below.

A cursory examination showed that despite the blood, there wasn't enough to suggest that any major arteries had been hit, it still hurt like hell though.

She turned her attention back to her original task. In a much less violent re-enactment of her previous struggle, she slipped the blade of her k-bar under the other shoulder strap on the manpack and cut it, pulling the radio set free from the dead body.

Putting her arm through the intact shoulder strap, the groaned in pain as she crawled up to the edge of the foxhole and peered over the top of the sandbags. She did not like what she saw. A lot had happened since she had gotten there.

Two crabs were now making their way down the street toward her, as were about a dozen Skinnies, some of which were opening fire at unseen targets. A quick glance back at the CP didn't paint any prettier a picture, their fifty cal wasn't firing, though there did seem to be signs of activity, she just didn't know what.

Shit.

Sinking back down into the bottom of the foxhole causing her wounded torso to scream in protest. She let out a sigh in resignation, she wouldn't be making it out of there. She surveyed the foxhole and managed to spot a map still clutched in the right hand of the Mexican Lieutenant. Suddenly realizing what she had to do, she crawled over to him and wrenched the map free.

Despite generous amounts of blood smeared on the laminated document, she could make out enough details to get the information she needed.

Lifting the handset to her ears she squeezed the transmit button “Break-break, this is Lance-Coropral Kelly Vasquez of the 3rd Battalion 28th Marines, requesting immediate assistance. Does anyone read this message? Over” she announced, before releasing the button.

There was a brief pause with static in her ear, then “this is Emerald City, you are five by five Lance-Corporal, where is your CO? Over” came a female voice.

“Last I checked, he was wounded, I don't know if he's still alive, we have sustained severe casualties, and are about to be overrun, requesting immediate fire support, over.”

Another pause.

“Negative on that fire support Lance-Corporal, you don't have the authority to do so and haven't even used the correct call signs, over.”

Kelly shook her head “Dammit Emerald City! We are down to less than squad strength, are under heavy assault from Skinny infantry and armor. We have been tasked with covering the 12th Armored's left flank. I say again, the 12th Armored's left flank is about to be breached by an unknown number of enemy forces. I am requesting immediate fire support. Over” she was shouting half out of frustration and half in order to be heard over the sounds of battle.

There was another pause, this one longer than before. Kelly was starting to worry that they had not received her last transmission when the earpiece in the headset crackled “I read you Lance-Corporal, do you have target coordinates for this fire package? Over” the voice seemed almost conciliatory this time.

Nodding as if the voice on the other side could see her, Kelly looked back at the map, then squeezed the transmit button “Affirmative Emerald City, target is map-grid reference... 121723, over.”

“Copy that, standby-”

Silence filled the line for what seemed to be an eternity before another crackle “this is Emerald City, we read those coordinates as being right on top of your location, please confirm, over.”

Kelly nodded again, sorry kid she thought as she looked back in the direction of the CP “I say again: requesting immediate fire support targeted at map-grid reference 121723, over” she said with a slow exhalation.

“Copy that, fire support incoming. Godspeed Lance-Corporal.”





-12:47PM, March 30, 1988, northern Grozny outskirts, Grozny Oblast, Russia, USSR




The ancient suspension of the tank groaned in protest as they rolled over and crushed an overturned car at nearly forty kilometers per hour. As metal and glass met hardened steel, tortured screeches rattled the cramped interior of the vehicle.

Lieutenant Matvey Solokov peered through his periscope, cursing the lack of peripheral vision “keep up our speed! We've got to beat them there” he shouted over the roar of the engine. The hill up ahead was only about a quarter kilometer away now.

“As long as one of those gunships don't swoop out of the sky and obliterate us” quipped Masha.

Matvey cast a grin in his loader's direction “if only we are so lucky” he guffawed. She smiled back at him.

Hopping the curb and up onto the grass, the T-34 shuddered again “this ancient piece of shit may shake to pieces before we even get the chance to face the enemy, we may have just popped an oil line!” shouted Nikon across the crew channel into Matvey's ear.

He just shook his head “we'll worry about it later, don't let off the throttle for anything” responded Matvey to his driver.

By then they had already started climbing the hill “everyone be ready!” he commanded as his fingers tensed over the turret and elevation toggles. Seconds ticked by and eventually his periscope view saw nothing but sky, then suddenly they crashed back to earth as they crested the top of the hill.

He did a quick visual search, there was the highway, an overpass to the west, and...

-there! About a half kilometer down the road were the three Enigma crabs, still heading forward at a pretty swift rate “halt!” he shouted, and almost without delay, the tank ground to a halt, throwing Matvey into the tank gun and sending a sharp pain up through his shoulder. He did not bother to wait and he went to work on his controls, his hands working the toggles.

Rotating to the right, then down hurry the fuck up he willed his vehicle to obey. Motors whined as he peered through his scope. The terrain outside crawled by and upwards as the crabs creeped toward the crosshairs.

Remembering to lead his target ever so slightly, he lined up the crosshairs on the stretch of highway directly in front of the lead crab, and when it reached the target area, his right hand flew from one of the toggles to the firing lever “firing!” he shouted and jerked the lever hard.

The entire tank shook violently as the 105mm gun unleashed its deadly payload with considerably more force than the tank had been designed to take. Again, he did not wait “reload!” he shouted as he looked through his scope again, revealing a flaming wreck where the first crab had been.

Letting out a cry of celebration, he worked the controls again, quickly trying to line up the next target, the interior of the tank shuddered slightly as the Enigma machines opened fire, seemingly at random, hitting the ground about two hundred meters away. He wondered if they were panicking, if such a reaction was even possible for them, but he put those thoughts aside as he made a final adjustment to his aim “ready” reported Masha.

He nodded in response, reached for the lever, “firing!” and yanked again. The world shook, and the second Enigma machine was obliterated.

“Reload!”


He peered through the scope in an attempt to take aim on his third target, but smoke and fire were obscuring his view. Suddenly a blue flash outshone the smoldering wrecks and his entire view was blotted out. The tank shook violently “Nikon! Get us out of here! Everyone else, report in! Everyone alright?!” he demanded.

The tank lurched as the engine revved up, accelerating them away from where they were and down the hill toward the road.

The sound of his three crew members reporting in prompted Matvey to release the air in his lungs. He turned his attention to his periscope just as they hit the asphalt of the roadbed. Another nearby explosion shook the tank, but not nearly as much as the last one. This particular adversary had learned the lesson of its comrades' demise.

The sound of the breach sliding shut signaled that Masha had finished loading another shell “Nikon, bring us to a halt just on the other side of the highway” he ordered as he worked the controls for the turret, bringing it to bear on the last crab.

Again, the seconds crawled at a glacial pace, but soon he had managed to center the crosshairs on their last victim. He didn't bother leading his target this time. He pulled the lever, and the crab disappeared in a flash of fire and smoke.

A broad satisfied grin crossed his lips “nice work people” he congratulated his crew “now, let's get this blessed pile of junk under that overpass and we'll see about fixing that oil line.”





-6:18AM March 30, 1988, Philadelphia, PA, United States




It didn't sound like in the movies. The gunfire was more like a loud popping, kind of like somebody dropping a bunch of lightbulbs on the floor. Suddenly there was a loud thump, and the concrete he was sitting on vibrated.

There were more pops, another thump, some shouts, and then a bunch more pops. Then there was silence.

“Ammo!”

It took him a second to register the word.

“Ammo!”

Suddenly realizing what he was supposed to do, he grabbed the backpack on his lap and leaped to his feet.

The street outside was a mess. There were two police cars sitting in the middle of the road, both of them were on fire, and one of the row houses across the street had collapsed.

He tried not to get distracted as he headed for his destination: the group of men standing around an overturned bus. It took him about ten seconds to get there.

“Where the fuck you been boy?!”

Two-Step was glaring at him, he had always given Jason a lot of crap, and Jason didn't much like it. He was about to say something in response, but Dollar Bill beat him to it.

“Leave him be” said the gangster who walked over to Jason and putting a hand out to which Jason responded by offering the backpack “the kid done good” he said with an approving look down at Jason as he accepted the bag. Jason beamed in response and directed a defiant look at Two-Step.

Dollar Bill unzipped the bag and reached inside, pulling out a clip and tossed the bag onto the ground next to the bus before reloading his gun “everybody get some more ammo, we're gonna need a lot more before we finish out today.”

It was then that Jason noticed the body on the ground, it wasn't a man, but one of those aliens he heard about “shit! Izzat one a them aliens?!” he exclaimed.

“Yeah kid, it sure is” responded Dollar Bill.

Almost entranced, he walked over toward the dead alien “damn yo, you guys really got him good” he remarked as he looked over what looked like a hundred bullet holes in the alien carcass. A bright red, almost orange colored liquid leaked out of them “damn, that's alien blood!” he exclaimed.

“It sure is kid” said Dollar Bill “we're gonna be seing a lot more of it too, these guys invaded the wrong neighborhood” his voice took on an ominous tone.

Continuing to stare at the dead alien, Jason didn't notice Dollar Bill walk up behind him “you done good kid, I think I'll call you Bullets” he explained.

Surprised, Jason's gaze darted up and away from the body back to the man standing over him “you gonna call me 'Bullets' from now on?” he asked, the name sounded dangerous, he liked it.

Dollar Bill nodded “yeah, it works” he responded.

Jason turned back to the dead body “cool” he said with a slow nod.

Invaded the wrong damn neighborhood.

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 Post subject: Re: Godforsaken Future(now back from hiatus) PostPosted: 2013-11-29 04:34pm
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Youngling

Joined: 2010-03-22 02:14pm
Posts: 148
ran out of space, so here is the rest of the update:



-7:35AM March 30, 1988, Bozorg Exclusion Zone, Amazon River Basin, Brazil




Che didn't know what the hell was going on, he just knew that something was different with the bugs. They hadn't taken direct action like this in months, especially this far out into the exclusion zone. Checking the weight of his magazine half full, okay he slapped it back in place.

Popping up over the embankment, he spotted the nearest Bozorg warrior, but something was off. It wasn't running toward him, it was going in the other direction, toward... a man?

No, it wasn't a man, it was one of those other aliens, the Enigmas.

What the fuck?

A quick survey revealed that none of the Bozorgs were heading in their direction, they were fighting what looked like another half dozen Enigmas who were standing among a copse of charred trees about one-hundred yards out.

He cast a confused glance over at the soldier next to him.

What in the hell is going on?




-6:02AM March 30, 1988, somewhere south of Pedregoso,Zacatecas, Mexico




The Humvee groaned in protest as Lieutenant Jose Vargas slammed on the brakes, kicking up a sizable dust cloud in the process. He exchanged a short glance with Corporal Diaz “alright, let's get this over with” he exhaled.

Pausing for just a second, they both stepped out of the vehicle almost in unison. Neither of them bothered closing the door behind them.

Jose looked up at the contraption mounted onto the back of the vehicle, it looked like some kind of rudimentary cannon, and to a degree, it was.

Meeting at the small control panel on the driver's side of the cargo bed, the two soldiers wordlessly went through the motions that they had tirelessly rehearsed for the past two months. It was automatic at this point.

Flipping the half dozen switches to activate the warhead and the aiming motors, Jose looked up at the group of ominous floating alien ships. They were almost directly overhead at this point and were making their way north at a ponderous rate.

He then turned his eyes toward Diaz “your aim, Corporal” he said in surprising monotone. His comrade merely nodded in silence as his hands worked the dials on the control panel.

Motors whined as the barrel of the weapon swiveled to aim toward the alien vessels, this was not an exact science, and so there wasn't much time spent on this process. After a few seconds of work, Diaz stepped back, satisfied.

Both men reached for the key on the chains around their necks. Both gave a sharp tug, pulling them free. Then they turned, inserted each key into their slots, and turned them.

With that, the control panel lit up bright red. Both men stared at each other for a second, they didn't bother exchanging sentimentalities. Both of them had been volunteers, they had known from the start what this mission meant, and any goodbyes they might have to say had occurred during the hurried drive to the launch site.

Jose flipped one more switch on the control panel, arming the warhead, and with a sigh, he looked down at the large red button on the panel. He pressed it.

The Humvee bucked violently as the weapon launched its payload into the air. The alien flotilla had been only about five or six thousand meters in the air and were moving at only a few hundred kilometers an hour. The warhead did not have very far to travel.

As one final gesture of camraderie, both men clasped each others' hands. It was the last thing they did as they were flash fried to death by the sudden appearance of a new sun over Central Mexico.





-6:23AM, March 30, 1988, Bull Lake, Oklahoma, United States




It was unseasonably chilly for late March, and his fatigues just weren't quite warm enough to keep John from shivering.

“Alright guys, this is gonna be one hell of a fight!” bellowed Bob as he brandished his M16 in the air. The rest of the militia responded with their own round of whoops, John didn't hesitate to join in.

“These aliens think they can come in here and take our planet from us! Well, we're gonna show 'em not to poke their noses around in this state!”

Another round of hollars filled the air, and a couple guys even fired off a few rounds into the air, and after a couple more minutes of psyching themselves up, they finally piled into their pickup trucks and sped away.

They had heard that a group of those Enigmas had set down by Bill Hobson's farm up north, they were gonna go and clean it out.

Figured that they would have to take care of this themselves. The damn fools in Washington were busy helping all those fucking internationals, sending good American boys to go fight and die for some damn foreigners.

Whatever the case, they'd take care of this mess. Let those alien fuckers know that Oklahoma was not a place to come snooping around.

It had taken them about forty minutes to get up there, but when they pulled up to Mr. Hobson's house, the old man came running out toting what looked like an old M1 Garand, John wondered if it even worked anymore.

Bob was in the lead truck, and that's exactly where the old man ran to. The two of them had an exchange that John couldn't hear. After about a minute, the old guy ran back to his house and Bob poked his head out of the open sunroof of his pickup “Bill here says that they came down and are holed up in his barn” he announced while waving his rifle toward the northeast before disappearing back inside the vehicle.

Minutes later, they were pulling up outside the barn, it had sustained quite some damage, with a sizable chunk taken out of the roof, and it looked like it was one stiff breeze away from collapsing. The trucks had parked in a semicircle outside the main entrance to the building.

Without waiting, they all proceeded to dismount.

Suddenly the entire world turned upside down. John was now deaf and blind, and his body ached all over.

Next thing he knew, he was lying on the ground, there were flaming pieces of metal all over the place, his pickup truck was laying on its side, and Billy Kent's Bronco was nowhere to be seen, replaced by a flaming wreck about fifteen feet away.

There seemed to be blood and body parts everywhere, and everybody else was screaming. Before he had the chance to figure out what had happened, another truck exploded, this time it was Bob's.

More screams, more death.

Finally John managed to get to his feet, his gaze came up to meet Timmy Johnson, a terrified look was on his face. Then, just like that, it disappeared in a bright pink mist.

The sound of the barn collapsing drew his attention back to their original objective. There were about five or six aliens running toward them, and some kind of large four legged metal machine right behind them.

A flurry of thoughts ran through his head, first was of his weapon, but a quick glance at the decapitated body of Timmy lying on the ground in front of him put paid to that.

Without further delay, he turned and ran as fast as he could. He made it for all of ten seconds before his upper torso disappeared in a cloud of blood, bone, and internal organs, and then he was no more.




-March 30, 1988, Earth





When the first alarming radar contacts, it took less than five minutes for things to get moving. The first thing to happen was a significant increase in the number of radio transmissions and phone calls made by military and government agencies across the world.

Information was transmitted, then confirmed, then checked and double checked. It actually would have taken considerably less time than that, except that the desire to make sure that everything was accurate, and that the specifics of the situation were properly understood were so great. The decision making process was surprisingly brief. It's not that there weren't a lot of very important decisions to be made, but those decisions had been made well before the day in question.

From the day that the Enigmas had made their explosive appearance in Earth's skies, thousands upon thousands of researchers and analysts of every discipline had devoted millions of man-hours toward figuring out just what to expect from them. From those efforts, a number of different possibilities had been decided upon as being the most likely. When the Enigmas started to move, the people in charge knew just what possibility they had before them.

At ten minutes, nearly every serviceable military aircraft aircraft in existence took to the skies or made ready to do so.

At twelve minutes, nearly every available nuclear warhead had been given a target.

At sixteen minutes twelve million men and women in ground forces across the globe had been ordered to action.

At half-an-hour, the first nuclear weapons had left their launchers.

Six minutes after that, the first Enigma flotilla that had been targeted was reached by its targeted ordinance. They were flying over the southwest coast of Greenland.

Analysis had determined that a force of that size could be overwhelmed by a package of eight warheads, and so that was how many weapons had been deployed. Launched from a Soviet Typhoon ballistic missile submarine operating in the North Atlantic.

A single missile had been tasked with the mission, the two unused warheads were designated for a different target.

The Enigmas first detected the offending projectiles about twenty seconds after they initiated re-entry. It had been well known that the Enigmas can be slow to react to incursions, and so despite an effective range of three hundred kilometers, they will often not effectively respond to such incursions until two-hundred-fifty kilometers. In the case of fast movingnre-entering warheads, it took until they were within one hundred fifty kilometers. The very first warhead was taken out at one-hundred kilometers, three more at eighty, and two between seventy and thirty.

Of the remaining two, the first got to within a kilometer of the flotilla and detonated with 100 kilotons of explosive force. The four large ships in the flotilla were engulfed in the fireball, with the largest breaking into three smaller pieces. The other three had been severely damaged, their superheated skins turned to a bright red. The several hundred “smaller” craft ranging in size from hundreds of meters across to less than ten had largely been swatted from the sky in a single blinding instant by the searing heat and massive overpressure of the detonation. Half a second after that, the second warhead detonated. This one plummeted right into the middle of what was left of the formation, detonating less than one hundred meters away from one of the larger vessels, effectively obliterating a full quarter of its mass from existence.

What the first detonation had started, the second one had finished. The remaining three large craft, had been shattered into thousands of pieces ranging in size from a half kilometer to a few centimeters across. Their smaller escorts, already plummeting from the sky were accelerated in their descent, and ripped to pieces on the way down.

In twenty seconds, there was nothing in the sky within a three hundred kilometer radius other than radioactive vapor and ash.

An unfortunate pair of climate researchers, operating out of a small camp in the area were treated to an interesting light show just before being instantly carbonized. They were not the first people to be killed by “friendly” fire in this way.

Not even close.

At thirty-nine minutes, the first airborne Enigma ground troops set foot inside human controlled territory in Orlando, Florida. It consisted of eight enigma foot soldiers and a single “crab” armored vehicle. They succeeded in killing seventy eight civilians, and forty eight Florida National Guardsmen before being killed in a hail of gunfire and anti-tank missiles.

At one hour, over ten-thousand air-to-air and surface-to-air missiles and over a million rounds of anti-aircraft artillery munitions had been fired.

At sixty-seven minutes, human ground forces in the Mexican, Mongolian, and North African theaters had begun full scale, controlled retreats from their forward positions. Their covering forces would suffer ninety percent casualties.

At ninety-minutes, a full third of the entire global inventory of military aircraft had been shot down in various engagements with Enigma forces.

At one-hundred-three minutes and seventeen seconds, a nuclear warhead missed its target over the Gulf of Mexico and detonated over Galveston, Texas, killing about thirty thousand people almost instantly.

At ninety-eight minutes, not a single human aircraft was operating within a thousand kilometers of an Enigma beachhead.

At two hours, a full two-thirds of the entire global stockpile of nuclear weapons had been expended.

At three hours over fifteen hundred Enigma craft of varying sizes had been destroyed.

At four hours, the last nuclear weapon used during that day, detonated upon impact on the waves of the south Pacific Ocean. Lost in the massive conflagrations of that day, no one even realized that the weapon had detonated, much less what its initial target had been. At this point approximately ninety percent of all nuclear ordinance on the planet had either been detonated or destroyed. Approximately a total of eighteen-hundred megatons worth of firepower had been unleashed.

At six hours, over five thousand aircraft of human and Enigma manufacture had been destroyed.

At eight hours, approximately eighty-thousand ground troops and five thousand vehicles of Enigma origin had been disgorged by airborne means outside of contiguously controlled Enigma territory at seemingly random locations.

At twelve hours, more than twenty-five million people had died either as a result of human or Enigma action, making the Thirtieth of March, 1988 the single bloodiest day in human history. The death toll would only climb from there.

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 Post subject: Re: Godforsaken Future(now back from hiatus) PostPosted: 2013-11-29 05:13pm
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Sith Devotee
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Joined: 2010-09-03 09:31pm
Posts: 2929
Holy shit...what a way to come back from hiatus...



You will be assimilated...bunghole!

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 Post subject: Re: Godforsaken Future - updated 11/29/2013 PostPosted: 2013-11-30 12:34am
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Joined: 2010-03-22 02:14pm
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As a black friday special, with the purchase of any one update, you get a special, mini update, absolutely free!


-millions of years past, Complex 23476 Orange, System 72




Blue37625 skittered down the corridor, a distinct purpose in his movements. Things had taken a dire turn. The Council was getting anxious to hear the results from their experiments and Grey778 was getting extremely forward with his own entreaties.

The thermal lamps guided his way through the complex, leading him past several adjoining complexes. After several minutes, he was approaching the levitator entrance.

The sentry gave him a cursory examination while he entered his access codes. Of particular note was the increased thermal output from the energy cells on the sentry's particle thrower, it took him a second to realize that it was a new design.

He pushed the thought aside as he entered the tube and the repulsor field grabbed his feet, sending slight tingles up all the way to his eye stalks.

The council insisted that the best possible solution be employed, and he thoroughly agreed. The Enemy absolutely had to be defeated. There was no alternative, but he would forever be condemned if he thought that he was going to allow those fools in Memetic Recursive Fields to submit a finished prototype before he was.

Reaching around to his harness, he lightly felt the sample tube he carried. A sense of reassurance went through him as if the tube was a protective totem of some kind. He stepped off of the repulsor field as it came to a halt.

Nodding to the other sentry upon exiting, he proceeded down the corridor. It didn't take him long to reach the observation room over the test chamber.

A quick glance through the observation port gave him a full view of the most important project in history. It would allow them to crush the Enemy and its normalcy altering pollution once and for all.

Subject 32278 was the most advanced of its kind, and had far surpassed all of its predecessors. Managing to evolve to a state that Blue was convinced could be considered true intelligence. Its significant heat output would have been enough to make it stand out among the other constructs inside the chamber.

Those constructs were quite an impressive development. The other researchers had not anticipated such a change, the fact that Subject 32278 had actually begun creating these constructs all of its own accord was something indeed, and the thing that had convinced him that this project was the true salvation they needed.

A quick glance at the perception monitor told him that 32278 had increased it's field of influence as expected. Pleasing as that was, it would just not be enough. In order to get to the needed influence level to protect itself from geometric abberation, much less normalcy distortion. At this rate, the Enemy would breach well before 32278 was ready.

But with a little help.

He retrieved the sample from his harness and made his way over to the attendant “Red, I've brought a new test sample” he explained, holding the tube out.

Turning an eyestalk to examine the object “microbal pathogen?” Red78625 queried.

Blue shuddered his tensors, indicating negative “nutrient mixture, I'm going to do some metabolic tests” he explained.

Red returned his attentions back to the task at hand “alright, be careful with the levitator, it's buffer unit has been showing anomalous behaviors, nothing serious, but something to remember” he explained, absent-mindedly.

Confident that his assertions had been believed, Blue turned to the access port, and opened it. He noted the stronger than usual tingling feeling as he stepped onto the repulsor field, Red had been quite correct.

Sealing the port behind him, he retrieved the control unit from the wall, twisting the manipulator. The levitator obeyed promptly enough, and soon he was being lowered down to the bottom of the test chamber.

Seeing the interior of the chamber was far more impressive than the view from the observation room. Subject 32278 had done quite a bit with its surroundings. Tissues flowed outward from it, covering almost every surface inside the massive enclosure, turning the test chamber into a massive pulsating organ. It had been one of the larger challenges for them to figure out a way to keep the growth from interfering with the instrumentation or from covering the observation ports.

There were more constructs inside the chamber than there had been the last time he had been there, 32278 had been quite industrious indeed. He would have to make a note to add these two new variants to his documentation, and request specimen retrieval to obtain one for study.

Reaching the bottom of the chamber, Blue retrieved the injector from his harness and inserted the specimen tube into the back, then depressed the safety release, readying it. Casting a glance up toward the observation room, he lamented having to make a false assertion, but it was a necessity for the good of the project and for the future of their race.

Certain that Red was not observing him, he smacked the injector against one of his other tensors, then shook it vigorously, ensuring that the special nerve cells properly disbursed into the nutrient solution. He had made sure that the sample of nerve cells were of the greatest quality. They had been scraped from his own central nerve cluster, once assimilated, the would finally allow 32278 to increase the rate at which its influence field grew in strength, fast enough to finally satisfy the council and solve this problem once and for all.

Reaching down, he placed the tip of the injector up against the outer layer of one of the larger tendrils of tissue.

A slight movement in the periphery of his vision prompted him to swivel one eye stalk back toward the grouping of constructs to his right.

That was odd.

Two of the newer constructs were standing noticeably closer to the levitator than when he first entered the chamber. A slight pang of worry struck him, and one of his tensors went to the levitator control, hovering over the emergency escape plate, he hesitated. There might not be another chance to do this, and it was imperative that he fulfill his objective.

Turning his eyestalk back to the constructs, he realized that they were not moving.

Perhaps it was just his own paranoia then. He returned his attentions back to the injector.

Suddenly, a tentacle leaped straight out from the tissue mass before him, the vicious barb at its end puncturing his carapace and skeletal membrane, going right into his own central nerve cluster.

Reflexively, his tensor went right down on the emergency escape plate, depressing it with enough force to activate it. In an instant, the tentacle jerked backward, pulling Blue down off of the repulsor field, and just as fast, the pair of constructs leaped across the remaining distance to the levitator and landed on it just as Blue37625 left it, and right before the repulsor field retracted back up toward the entry port.

*-*-*

Red had not been paying attention to what had been going on inside the test chamber, and he was completely surprised when the emergency alert signal activated. Panic struck him first, then indecision, then as he turned to see what had transpired, panic ensued again before he was able to compose his thoughts enough to reach for the quarantine seal release manipulator.

The quarantine seal release had been designed for just such a possibility that one of the test subjects had managed to make it onto the levitator. It was designed to immediately cut power to the levitator and lower a layer of armor plating over the viewports. It would have also activated a complex-wide alarm.

The delay caused by Red's indecision had been of the shortest timespan. An outside observer might not have even noticed it at first glance, but it was just too long for his own good. By the time he reached the quarantine release, the levitator had managed to complete its ascent, bringing both of the constructs up into the observation room.

In that instant, a lot of things went through the mind of Red78625. He recalled the major disagreement that had ensued when the administrator had suggested adding an extra door to the port as well as posting a sentry inside the observation room, and how the researchers(including he) had protested. He recalled the unnerving sense that he was being observed by the constructs from inside the test chamber.

Perhaps his mind was too full of thoughts, because he made a horrible error right then. Realizing that the quarantine release would do him little good at that point, he spun around and lunged at the alarm plate near his research station. He failed to remember that hitting the quarantine release would have accomplished the same thing, and that if he had kept heading for it, he would have probably been able to activate it. In stead, one of the constructs leaped upon him from behind.

His tensor went right for the alarm plate just as his body was impaled by one of the construct's massive talons. A second talon sliced off two of his left tensors, then the first pulled itself out of his body and sliced off one of Red's footstalks.

He collapsed there in the observation room, the alarm plate almost within reach.

Red's sacrifice could have accomplished something, if only he had been a little faster, if only he hadn't panicked, if only he had stayed the course. Alas, it was not to be, and the warning was never sent. Subject 32278 had enacted its plan, it would finally be unleashed.

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 Post subject: Re: Godforsaken Future - updated 11/29/2013 PostPosted: 2013-11-30 12:43pm
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Youngling

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Great to see more of this awesome story Guest !! :D
Love the new chapters, grim&dark ftw

But i have 1 question:
this mini update at the beggining it says "millions of years past" -
Does it mean millions years in the past or that since 1988 (story time) millions of years have pased??

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 Post subject: Re: Godforsaken Future - updated 11/29/2013 PostPosted: 2013-11-30 04:02pm
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Youngling

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I do not expect to post any updates set in the future of the story's present. So, this story is set millions of years in the past.

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 Post subject: Re: Godforsaken Future - updated 11/29/2013 PostPosted: 2013-11-30 04:40pm
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Sith Devotee
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To clarify, you'll still be posting "current" events about our war with the Bozorgs and Enigmas, right?



You will be assimilated...bunghole!

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 Post subject: Re: Godforsaken Future - updated 11/29/2013 PostPosted: 2013-11-30 05:58pm
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Youngling

Joined: 2010-03-22 02:14pm
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yes. The next update will start in April of 1988.

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 Post subject: Re: Godforsaken Future - updated 11/29/2013 PostPosted: 2013-11-30 06:13pm
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Youngling

Joined: 2009-12-19 10:47am
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thank you for clarifying that :)

So what we saw in that small update was the creation and birth of the Bozorg mind ??

will there be any more new races interfering in the war on Earth???

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 Post subject: Re: Godforsaken Future - updated 11/29/2013 PostPosted: 2013-11-30 06:17pm
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If there are any new races, I hope they're on our side. I don't think we can handle any more enemies...



You will be assimilated...bunghole!

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 Post subject: Re: Godforsaken Future - updated 11/29/2013 PostPosted: 2013-12-06 03:51am
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Youngling

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Episode 37




“Just because you're paranoid doesn't mean they're not after you.”
-Joseph Heller




-March 31, 1988, Vicinity of Earth





This was intolerable! Planetary assimilation was not supposed to be like this. These samples, these... 'creatures' had defied The Mind's plans for far too long, destroying countless constructs, daring to retake ground that had already been assimilated. Worst of all, they had the audacity to cut it off from the rest of its selves.

Every attempt to move forward with the assimilation had been met with obstacles at every turn, and now the upcoming movements had to be altered, postponed,or outright canceled. These new samples had made sure of that. They were like the others, but... different. They used 'machine things', just like the other intelligent samples, but they weren't the same, they were made of different substance, non-living stuff. Some of their machine things were similar to ones encountered before, and they were certainly capable of being killed. The eight-hundred destroyed machine things lying broken in assimilated territory proved that.

This didn't change the fact that The Mind would have to do something about them.

Millions of queries and answers moved back and forth throughout the mental corridors of The Mind, and after some deliberation, a decision was made. The original samples of this world would simply have to wait a little longer, these new samples were more of an immediate threat.




-3:14PM April 14, 1988, Brantley Lake Refugee Camp, New Mexico, United States




Surveying the small patch of ground, Norman dropped his sleeping bag to his feet, it rolled about a foot away before coming to a stop.

“Is this where we're gonna camp?”

His sister was standing right next to him, she had dropped down into a cross-legged position on the ground. She had a surprisingly cheery expression on her face. He gave her a smile of his own.

It had been a tough two weeks. They had managed to just make it out of Pensacola before things got too messy, then they ran out of gas somewhere around Alabama. They found shelter with other refugees, slept out on the side of the interstate, in school gymnasiums, & abandoned houses, scrounged food from abandoned grocery and convenience stores or got it out of the back of army trucks. Then they found themselves there, on an old camp ground, now a refugee camp.

He hadn't seen any of his friends since that day, probably wouldn't see any of them ever again either. Most of his belongings were gone, he'd been living off of two meals a day, sometimes fewer, none of them had showered since Black Wednesday, and now this was their home. He was tired, his feet hurt, and he just wanted to lay down and not think about any of that shit for the rest of the day.

Mom and Dad were standing behind them, about thirty feet back. They were hugging, he could see the look on his mother's face, he could tell she was crying. Then he looked down at Jessica, she was looking at a pair of kids playing fetch with a golden retriever. He suddenly decided that his feet didn't hurt so badly after all “hey kid, why don't we see what kind of food they have here?” he said.

She looked up at him “yeah, maybe we can get hot dogs or something!” she exclaimed with an enthusiastic look back up at him.

Dropping his knapsack to the ground, he helped her up to her feet and they headed off in search of something to eat.




-9:27AM April 17, 1988, McMurdough Station, Antarctica




Faces passed her in the hallway. They were the faces of empty people, hollowed out shells. Almost from the moment she arrived at the base, it had become clear that there was something horribly wrong there.

Aside from new arrivals, everyone at the base all had varying degrees of “dead eye” as she called it. The staff who worked exclusively at McMurdough didn't have it too bad, though they all looked to be suffering at least mild cases of depression with a slight touch of ...something unsettling about them. The people who went out to the dig site looked practically dead, their skin taking on a pallid appearance, their eyes sunken into the sockets, many of them looking like they hadn't eaten in weeks, or that the only thing they ever did was eat.

That was, except for the 'security staff.'

The men who she saw walking barely concealed patrol patterns throughout the base, with obvious bulges in their jackets. It wasn't hard to spot where these guys came from, the way they carried themselves, and examined their surroundings. Some were obviously ex-spooks; NSA, CIA, take your pick, others were former special forces, SEALS, Delta, even one or two Force Recon. They weren't suffering from whatever everyone else was. They seemed to be of healthy weight and complexion, but something else was wrong about them. She couldn't get her brain around it, but something just felt... wrong about them.

She passed one of them just before rounding the corner. His gaze methodically shifted around the area, scrutinizing everything in his surroundings, scanning for targets. Clarice recognized the look, and she had spent years teaching herself to do the same thing without looking so obvious.

What was obvious however was the jittery looking man who she had spotted about three days after she had arrived. He was presently following her down the corridor, and he was doing a horrible job of trying to look innocuous. His name was Kevin Doherty, a paleoarchaeologist from Harvard, he worked on processing samples shipped in from the dig site, and had made relatively regular trips between McMurdough and the site. At least that's what the personnel records said.

Whoever he was, he probably wasn't one of them.

It was about time she figured out just what his intentions were.

Rounding another corner, she picked up her pace and made a beeline for the storage room at the end of the corridor. Pushing through, she left the door slightly open behind her, then hid in the corner.

It had occurred to her that this “secret admirer” was actually a real pro, and that he was putting on the amateur facade in order to lull her into a false sense of security. In such a case, being this sloppy would be a hell of a way for her to go out, but such obvious bait was not likely suck in somebody so skilled. If he was for real, he would pass up the obvious lure and wait for her to come back out.

In about fifteen seconds, she knew what she was dealing with.

Slowly, the door opened, and in poked the head of her pursuer. He was fortunate that she had decided that he wasn't much of a threat, otherwise his face would have an extra couple breathing holes in it.

Entering the room almost all the way, the older man reached for the light switch, Clarice decided to act right then.

Like a tightly wound snare, her hands flew out, one latching onto his outstretched wrist, the other onto the shoulder of his sweater. In a single fluid motion, she twisted his wrist around behind his back and thrust him into the opposite wall, simultaneously, she reached out with her left foot and kicked the door closed.

Her victim let out a cry of alarm upon being seized, and then one of pain as his arm was forced into a position it was not meant to be in, then a third one as his face slammed into the wall. Releasing his shoulder, she pressed her forearm into the back of his neck, pushing him into the wall harder “ow! Please, you don't have anything to worry about from me!” he exclaimed as she forced him down to his knees “p- please! I- I just want to talk to you!” she ignored his protests and proceeded to kneel down, placing her knee on top of his ankle, taking care to keep most of her weight off of it.

She leaned in “feel that? I'm gonna break your ankle” she whispered in an icy cool monotone.

“Please, no! -Ow!”

She cut him off by pulling back on his shoulder, then shoving him back into the wall again “shut up!” she shouted.

Interrogations were not her specialty, but she knew that torture was not a reliable way to gain information. Fortunately, that wasn't what she was after. She could do her best to keep him off balance, see how he reacted, help her determine if he was trained or not. This was not the way she would like to go about this, but she just didn't have the luxury of time.

Slowly, she started to put weight on his ankle “OW! Please! P- Please! I'll do whatever you want! Please!” he pleaded with her.

Letting up just a bit, she leaned in again “why did Estevez send you?” she asked.

There was a pause “what? I don't-” he groaned in pain as she started to apply pressure to his ankle again.

In his position, she would have reacted in one of two ways. Either she would play along, see if she could get her interrogator to give away some information, or she would try to keep up the facade. If her opponent seemed to be a calm and cool operator, she would go with the former, if he seemed to be sloppy or overly emotional, she would try for the latter.

She pulled him back from the wall “cut those fucking lies! I told him I was going to make the drop next week, no earlier. I will make you seriously pay for his impatience!” she shouted, allowing anger to seep into her voice, then she pushed him back again.

“Ow! Please! I don't know any Estevez, I wasn't sent by anyone, I promise!”

Suddenly she got up off of his ankle, released his wrist, and grabbed him by the shoulders, forcing him to spin around and face her. She looked him over, and saw the look in his eyes. The way they stared back at her in utter terror, the tension in his muscles, he seemed legit. He was either incredibly good, or he was for real.

Softening her expression, she backed away from him and kneeled on the floor “it's OK Kevin, you can relax, I'm not going to hurt you” she said reasssuringly.

His expression changed from one of pure terror to an odd mix or fear and confusion “but- but-?” about a dozen questions must have been going through his mind, at least.

She decided to answer what must have been the most pressing one “sorry about the scare, I spotted you following me and I had to be sure” she explained.

“Sure, sure of what? I don't understand. Who is Estevez?”

“None of your concern right now” she said with a dismissive gesture “why were you following me?”

Kevin looked down at his lap, then around the room, almost as if he expected there to be someone else in there, hiding “I- I uh, I wanted to make sure you weren't one of them” he said.

“The security staff?”

He nodded “it's not just the guys with the guns. It's the administrator, he's got people all over the base and down at the dig site” he explained,

Clarice nodded in comprehension, she had seen the passengers of the 'supply flights,' Those planes were supposed to be loaded with extra supplies for the dig site and nothing else, but she had managed to spot the groups of people boarding and unloading from them. The fact that whoever was running the show didn't seem to be making more than a cursory effort to conceal these people meant one of two things: Either they didn't know that they were leaving themselves open to detection, or they knew that they didn't have to worry.

Something told her that the latter case was true. A possibility that she didn't much care for.

“Yeah, I know who you are talking about, but there is a DoD run project out at the dig site, there's bound to be plenty of extra security and secrecy. What makes you so paranoid?”

He shook his head “no, it's worse than that. You haven't been out to the dig site, you haven't been here as long as I have, seen the things I've seen” he said, letting out a long ragged breath “the last marshal didn't listen to me, I think he was involved with them, or maybe he just didn't want to believe it, I don't know, but you have got to listen to me, there is something very wrong here. We shouldn't be here” he looked down at his hands, as if he expected to see an answer to his problems there.

“You're not making any sense, what do you mean? It's just a bunch of old artifacts, they're being used to help win the war.”

He let out another ragged breath “NO. You. Must. Listentome.” his words ran together frantically “I thought the same thing when I got here eight months ago. I was ecstatic, the largest archaeological discovery in history, and evidence that everything we know about human evolution may be wrong, but...” he trailed off.

She grabbed him by the shoulder “what? Are these guys stealing the artifacts? Performing human experiments? What?” she was starting to get frustrated. She was a spy, not a therapist.

A strong gust of wind blew outside, causing the building to shudder slightly. He jumped, pulled out of whatever trance he had “no...” he shook his head “yes-” then he shook his head again “it's more complex than that.”

“I was cataloging biological samples, and at first I was intrigued. They were very different from anything that I had seen before, but I soon realized that they were not natural, there was something very wrong with them. I started asking around and talking to other departments, the artifacts... They were... off.”

“The inscriptions they had translated described unbelievable horrors. And the deaths...”

He trailed off again. Clarice sighed, she just didn't have time for this. They needed to get out of there before someone noticed them “what deaths? What happened? Tell me” she shook him again, this time with more force.

Again, he managed to pull himself together “yeah, right. Uh, well there was the occasional suicide. Some guys slit their wrists, others got into dangerous chemicals, some just walked out into the ice and froze to death. That was bad enough, but the murders were something else entirely.”

“I knew one of the clerks in data entry. Jake Watson was his name. Me and him had lunch together almost every day. He had a wife and kid, talked about them all the time. He actually seemed to be one of the few guys that didn't let this place get to him.”

Kevin paused and stared off into the distance again, but he didn't stop for long this time “one day he snuck one of the pick-axes from excavation, and killed one of the maintenance staff with it. They found him in the mens' room. Said it looked like he had been working on the guy for a good hour, just hacking at his head. They had to use fingerprints to confirm his identity, dental records weren't much good.”

“That wasn't the worst though.”

He started shaking then, and he looked her in the eye. His expression sent a chill down her spine. He continued “About three months ago they found something down there in the ice. 'Ross Magnetic Anomalies' they called them. I heard the others talking about them, describing them as best they could, but nothing anyone can say will prepare you for what they are actually like. They're just... wrong. Shouldn't exist...” he trailed off.

She considered her situation for a moment longer.

“And the people, ever since we uncovered them, something has been happening to them, changing them” he cut off her train of thought.

She had been trying to get as much intel as she could, but whoever was running security around the dig was good, and she had a hard time trying to find any holes in the security at the site. A tall order without being able to do any recon of the site itself, and most everyone who came out of the dig site seemed incredibly reluctant to talk about what was going on there, both because of the imposed secrecy and because of whatever it was they were digging up out there.

She'd seen the documents and materials that Brad had brought back, she'd even managed to catch a glimpse at some of the artifacts brought back. Some oddly shaped stone tablets, some grizzly looking fossils, but nothing particularly menacing. The only things that really had her worried was the frighteningly effective security, a constant sense of unease that she had never been able to shake from the time she landed, and the massive number of mysteries that she had yet to even begin to solve.

Whoever was running things there knew what they were doing. They knew that despite the dig site being far more sensitive, McMurdough was the single point of entry for it. Everything and everyone that went to the dig site and subsequently left it, passed through McMurdough.

She didn't know much about archeology or scientific research, but she did know that strict security did not do much to facilitate it. So, the best way to accomplish their goals and secure the dig site were to keep a firm grip on McMurdough, and that they did. Security personnel flew on every flight out to the dig site, access to the site was strictly limited and controlled by 'the administrator' and his staff, and her cover as a US marshal granted her absolutely no access whatsoever.

Clarice did not like the option being presented to her right then. Mr. Doherty wasn't much good at maintaining discretion. She wouldn't be surprised if the powers that be were intercepting all of his outgoing mail out of simple precaution. It went without saying that he was certainly on the radar of whoever was running security there, and if she started using him as an asset, it was highly likely that she would soon be too.

Despite that being the case, she knew that there were few choices available to her, and she did not like this one in the least either, but the longer she was there, the more likely it was that she would be found out, security there was too good otherwise.

A moment of further deliberation and she made her decision “I need to get over there and see for myself” she said.

He met her gaze, a wary look in his eyes “you don't want to-” he started to say, but she interrupted him.

“Like you said, I have to see for myself. If what you say is true, then I have to inform my superiors at the Marshal's Service about this.”

Kevin looked as though he was reconsidering, but didn't seem fully convinced “if I can't rely on you, then I may have to file a protest with the Administrator, indicating that I have been informed of criminal behavior at the dig site” she said, then gave him a knowing look “and the source of my suspicions” she finished.

She saw the horrific realization take shape in his mind “you can't! I- I think they'd kill me!” he protested.

Clarice shrugged “I can't do much without any evidence, and all I have to go on is your word. Without any other options, I'd have to go through normal channels” adding a tone of resignation to her voice.

After a moment of silence where it looked like the poor man might actually have suffered a nervous breakdown of some kind, he finally responded “I think I know a way.”

*-*-*

Kelly's dreams had taken a turn for the unpleasant ever since she had arrived in Antarctica. This made for fitful sleep, and in turn did not help with her constant feelings of unease. She wasn't sure if Doherty was completely off his rocker, but she couldn't deny that there was something fundamentally wrong there. Something beyond the secrecy and stiff security.

That being the case, she did not much mind being woken from her sleep by the sound of something moving in her room. Reflexively reaching for her weapon, she drew it and aimed it toward the dark figure at the foot of her bed.

“That won't be necessary” said the unseen intruder.

Clarice was skeptical to say the least “no more necessary than breaking into my room in the middle of the night” she responded.

The figure began to move. Her finger tensed over the trigger “I would request that you not kill me” he said “I simply wish to shed some light on the situation” he requested as he slowed his motions.

Her vision cleared as her eyes adjusted, allowing to make out more details on the figure, he didn't appear to be holding any weapons, she decided to loosen her grip on her weapon “alright” she simply said.

He reached over to the switch and suddenly she could see who she was dealing with.

The gentleman before her was a middle aged man, in his forties, salt-and-pepper hair, clean shaven. She recognized him as one of the anthropologists assigned to the dig, Tom Harper was his name. She suddenly had the feeling that all of her information on him was grossly out of date.

Returning both of his hands to an up-raised position, he had a conciliatory look on his face “if you really want to keep pointing that thing at me, then feel free, but I would appreciate if you would put it down, I mean you no harm” he said.

She considered it for a second. He managed to enter the room without waking her. He probably could have taken her weapon as well. A second of further consideration and she relented, lowering the firearm.

Lowering his own arms, he gave her a nod “much thanks” he said with a smile.

“So I'm guessing that you are no anthropologist, and that your name is not Tom Harper.”

“And I would guess that your name is not Jennifer Stein, nor are you a Federal Marshal.”

Sitting up, she slid out of the bed, motioning him to sit in one of the small chairs at the other end of the decidedly cramped room.

Sitting down across from the visitor, she placed her gun on the small table in front of her “to what do I owe this visit?” she asked not taking her hand off of the weapon. She was uncomfortably sure that his timing had something to do with her meeting earlier in the morning, she wasn't going to let him know that though.

He sat back and folded his arms “I gather that you are planning a trip next week, I'll need you to pick something up while you are there” he explained.

“But why-” she stopped herself, shaking her head, then started again “ok, let's back up a second. What was it that gave me away?” she asked. She wouldn't be able to accomplish much more if her position had been compromised.

He cast a wry grin in her direction “I wouldn't feel so bad, it wasn't you so much as it was the fact that my employers and yours have both been looking into the parties that are running the dig. I wouldn't worry though, without that little hint, I'm not sure that I would have been able to sniff you out, you've quite good” he explained.

Nodding as if to convey a sense of reassurance, her gaze went up from down at the table to meet his “you've been here longer than I” she said, noting the same pallid, sickly appearance that all long term residents on this continent seemed to have “and you have regular access to the dig site, aside from having me stick out my neck on our behalf, why would you need me to do this?”

“My situation here has a time limit on it, after the events of Black Wednesday, my employers are in a far more tenuous position than they used to be, and as with them, so goes my exit strategy. You however, I gather that you must have some options in that department still available.”

She raised an eyebrow at that one “I wasn't aware that the Soviets-” he cut her off.

“I'm not working for the Soviet government. My employers are somewhat less... provincial in nature.”

Her eyes narrowed “alright, so what exactly is it that you want?” she asked, finally coming to the main point.

He reached inside of his jacket and retrieved an envelope “there are two items in particular that I need you to obtain” he said, sliding it across the small table.

As if expecting it to spring on her like some kind of trap, she picked it up off of the table and opened it. Contained within were two things, one was a Polaroid photo, the other looked like an ancient piece of paper. She pulled out the paper first. It was about the size of a playing card, with ragged edges, it appeared to have been ripped from a larger sheet. One side appeared to have some kind of ancient script scrawled upon it, written in some language she didn't recognize. On the other side was what looked like an old woodcut.

The image on it depicted a pair of skeletons standing over what appeared to be a pile of dismembered limbs. Their arms were outstretched in an upward motion, possibly in supplication, and above them was what appeared to be some kind of abnormally shaped object, defined by jagged interlocking edges.

Her eyebrow furrowed as she retrieved the photo. Upon seeing what it depicted, her eyebrows rose again. It depicted a strange metal case, possibly cast iron, bearing some resemblance to a pelican case, almost cubical in proportion. Its surface was adorned with some sort of complex interlocking pattern, swirling lines and angular jagged edges, all somehow fitting together in the same composition. It was hard to tell from the photo, but it appeared to be no more than a foot across.

He didn't bother to wait for a question “the artifact goes inside the case, that's how they are storing them” he explained.

She looked up at him “you said two items” she said, a question as much as a statement.

Nodding in response “the case is one of the items. When you obtain it, you'll want to open the case to make sure the genuine article is contained within. Only open it for a few seconds, then keep it closed. DON'T touch it, whatever you do” he was adamant,

“What-”

“Only a few seconds, even that long may be damaging” he pointed a finger at her.

Not knowing what to make of his cryptic references, she placed the photo down on the table “what exactly is it? And why do you want it?” she inquired.

“To answer your second question, I don't want it. I want you to take it with you when you leave.”

He didn't give her enough time to respond to that before continuing “As for your first question, all I can tell you is that it is the stuff of nightmares. Do not take it lightly” he gave her a penetrating look, and for the second time in less than twenty-four hours, she felt a chill run down her spine.




-3:28PM April 21, 1988, Washington, DC, United States




A cool breeze sent a shiver through Roger's bones. The shiver wasn't entirely because of the temperature, or rather not entirely because of its physical effects. He knew why it was so cold that time of year, and he didn't much like the reason. Of course, of all of the things for him to be worried about, an abnormally cold year was the least of his worries.

Making his way down the sidewalk, he made sure to keep a watchful eye on passers-by. His experiences in the past year had taught him that a good dose of paranoia could be a healthy thing.

The people out there on the street with him were oblivious. They were busy scurrying about, heading off to their jobs or home, maybe running errands. To be sure, they certainly had fear. The collapsed building a block down the street was an ever present reminder of the world they all inhabited now.

He stumbled slightly as he attempted to sidestep a sizable pile of rubble, another reminder of the new world. He was glad that they had managed to clear the bodies off the streets in DC. He'd heard that there were still remains laying around in Boston and Seattle, and there was even still fighting going on in Saint Louis.

...Saint Louis, Mobile, Dallas, Cardiff, Mumbai, Cuba, Northern China, the entire Gulf Coast.

His briefcase felt as if it weighed a ton. The documents contained within it were enough. There were holes in it, it had been hastily assembled, but the overall gist was undeniable.

'At present, with all information at hand, the conclusion of this war is in doubt.'

He had spent years at the start of his career wondering why so many of his colleagues felt the need to write their reports in such clinical terms, even when discussing things like megadeaths from nuclear wars, artificially induced famines, or chemical warfare. Now he knew.

It was one thing to discuss these things in the abstract, but when analyzing them as if they were real possibilities that were all too likely to actually happen, it was too damn hard to write these reports in any other way. The horror of these analysis was so damn hard to take in emotional terms.

After a few seconds, he finished crossing the street and walked up to the front door of the post office.

Open finally after almost a month being closed at least they've got the mail going again he thought as he stepped through the door.

He'd never seen the clerk behind the counter before, the man looked ancient, easily seventy years old. Postal service must have been really short staffed if the were digging up guys like him.

Passing by the elderly clerk, he headed over toward the mailboxes, and with little fanfair, he unlocked the box.

There wasn't much inside. A flier from a mattress store, a circular from the local Shoprite. He was amazed at the fact that despite everything that happened, junk mail still managed to flow like sewage. He crumpled and tossed the offending articles into a nearby wastebasket, then moved onto the remaining three articles. Two were financial statements, he'd file them in the appropriate places when he got back to the office. The last was a small, nondescript, white envelope.

Taking the three articles, he brought his briefcase over to the table on the other side of the room, opening it up, he tossed the envelopes inside. Then popped it close and headed back outstretched

*-*-*

Three hours later he was sitting in his study, a glass of gin in his hand. He took a sip, letting the warmth fill his mouth and run down his throat. The briefcase was sitting on his desk, he contemplated it while he took another sip.

Deliberating for another minute, he placed the glass on the desk, pulled the briefcase toward him, entered the combination, popped open the latches, and opened his briefcase.

He stared at the envelope for another second further, then retrieved it, slipping his finger inside, he tore it open and pulled out its contents.

The Carnival Cruise Lines brochure staring back at him was largely unremarkable. A pair of coupons had been cut out of the back page, a pair of perfect squares. Furrowing his brow, he pondered the importance of the message, then flipped through the brochure.

One.

Two.

Three.

Three small scribbles.

Shit.

He didn't have a lot of time.




-3:24PM April 24, 1988, Ross Archaeological dig site 04, Antarctica




Despite doubling up on her parka, she was still freezing. She still continued to flex her muscles, making sure to keep the blood flowing.

The oil drum was not a particularly comfortable place to spend seven hours, especially not one that was being flown in the unheated cargo hold of a C-130 flying across the Antarctic.

That being the case, it was hardly the most uncomfortable thing she had ever had to do in her long, unscrupulous career. She as still getting impatient though. Doherty was over an hour late.

Almost as if on cue, she heard the sound of footsteps outside the drum, she tensed, ready to spring into action. The footsteps got closer, finally coming to a stop right next to the drum. Her hand tensed around her weapon, ready to draw it. Hands worked on the outside of the drum, seconds ticked by as she waited.

The lid popped off, and she looked up, her weapon drawn, ready to perforate any potential enemies.

“Wait! Don't shoot!”

Kevin Doherty was staring back at her with wide eyes, terror filled them.

Pushing herself up out of the oil drum, she spit out the mouthpiece on her oxygen tank. Surveying her surroundings, she realized just why she was so damn cold. The entire room was hewn from the ice.

“Why don't you shout a little louder?” she said, annoyed as she climbed out of the drum and re-holstered her weapon.

He put up his hands in apology “sorry” he whispered.

Not wasting any time, she dumped the air tank back inside the drum and then sealed it up again. Turning to face him “alright, lead the way” she said, gesturing him toward the door.

Despite having it described to her from multiple sources, she was awed at the sheer scale of the dig site. The research facility was easily as large as McMurdough, and almost entirely tunneled out of the ice.

More shocking than that were the people. If she had thought that the personnel at McMurdough looked sickly, the people at the dig site looked... worse. For sure there were still the folks who made regular trips between McMurdough and the dig, but the others, there were others that didn't even look quite human.

Their skin wasn't just pallid, it was green and oily, and their eyes...

She couldn't quite get a good look at them, but there was something different about them too.

She spotted someone in security round the corner up ahead, and a second later when Doherty stiffened up, she could tell that he did too. Worse, so would anybody else who cared to pay attention.

She saw it happening; the distance closing between them, Doherty's movements got more jittery, the other man cast an extra glance in their direction, the wheels started to turn in his head, and then they had his attention.

Shit.

She had hoped that Doherty would have made it until they had gotten the package. Murphy would have his way.

Passing the other man with no incident, as soon as they rounded the corner, she put her hand on his back and pushed him up to the next door “open it” she commanded.

Almost as if he was waiting for the order, his hands worked the access panel, sliding his access key and then entering his code. They were through the door in less than two seconds.

Despite the dim lighting, the resin countertops and ventilation hoods told her that they found themselves in some sort of lab, it was currently unoccupied.

He spun around and faced her, a look of confusion on his face “what happened?” he asked.

She drew her weapon “we've been spotted” she explained, scanning the room.

“But, but how can you tell?”

She gave him a knowing glance “it's what I do” she said.

He nodded, accepting her answer “well what do we do now?” he asked, nervous.

“Where exactly are we?” she asked.

He paused for a second, thinking “um, sub-level three, chemistry lab two, they use it for basic chromatic analysis of rock samples” he explained.

She nodded “artifact storage, how much farther?” she eyed him with a stern look.

Another pause, this time he mouthed some kind of mental puzzle solving “two more levels down, about halfway across the level” came the answer.

The beginnings of a plan started to form in her head “anything behind those doors?” she asked, indicating the two other doors on the other side of the lab.

He seemed surprised, as if noticing the doors for the first time “uh, one leads to an equipment room, the other...” he thought further “...core sample storage, I don't-” she cut him off.

“Can you get out through either one?”

He paused again, pondering the two doors “no- I mean, yes. There is an elevator down to the drill room on SL-23” he answered.

Grabbing him by the wrist, she led him across the room and dragged him through the door into the core sample room. The sound of the electronic lock on the other side of the room buzzing hit her ears just as the door closed behind them.

Shit.

They passed dozens of rows of freezers before coming to the sizable elevator doors on the other side of the room. She pressed the button, and open they slid.

The interior of the elevator car was quite clean for something used to transport minerals, she was expecting some kind of dingy cargo elevator. As the doors closed behind them, Kevin turned to her “what the hell are we supposed to do now? Artifact processing is all the way up on SL-5, and SL-23...” he trailed off before she had a chance to stop him. The look in his eyes showed a fear that was about something more than the people pursuing them.

She pressed on, shaking the thought aside “if they catch us, we won't be able to get very far, much less off this continent” she said, fixing him with a penetrating stare.

He was shaking now “-but SL-23...” again, he trailed of, staring in every other direction as if expecting some unseen enemy to spring forth and kill them.

Again, the look in his eyes was disconcerting “what's on sub-level 23? Other than the drill room?” she asked, not sure she wanted the answer.

He didn't reply, still looking around the elevator, seemingly unwilling to look her in the eye. Losing patience, she grabbed him by the shoulders and shook him “tell me!” she shouted.

Seemingly brought back to this reality “it's one of the entrances to the dig site” he started to explain.

“If we hope to get back up to the higher levels or out of the complex, we will have to go through the city. I've only been there myself a couple times, but the place is wrong.

The look in his eyes made clear that he was scared of things in that city at least as much as he was of the people after them, maybe more.

She'd read the descriptions, even seen some of the photographs. They were disconcerting to say the least, but she had learned that coming face-to-face with the things in and related to that city down under the ice was something altogether different.

Suddenly she was starting to wonder if taking their chances with the security goons back there was not a better idea after all.

She reholstered her weapon “when those doors open, you need to stay calm. We can't guarantee that we won't avoid detection before getting out, but the longer we manage to avoid drawing unwanted attention, the better our chances will be. Do you understand?” she explained, her voice was icy calm.

She stared him in the eye “do you understand?” she asked again.

Doherty took a slow, deep breath “yeah” he said with a nod.

“Good.”

After what felt like an eternity, the elevator came to a halt and the doors slid open. She led him out into a rather wide corridor, three parka-clad men were standing in front of them. She was so intent on getting to their destination, she almost missed the MP5s slung over the shoulders of two of them.

Reacting instantly, she shoved Doherty back into the elevator, then drove her fist right into face of the closest man. Spinning away from the aim of a freshly drawn Desert Eagle, she planted her elbow directly into the temple of the next nearest opponent, feeling a popping sensation on impact.

The third man had managed to bring his MP5 to bear, and not waiting for him to pull the trigger, she dropped down and delivered a determined kick to his ankle. The sound of a shattering ankle bone preceded the man falling over onto the floor with a loud cry of pain.

Suddenly two hands were on the back of her parka, pulling her up back onto her feet, and before she had the chance to respond, he had wrapped his arms around her upper arms, spinning her around to face one of his comrades who approached her with a drawn knife.

Kicking up off of the floor, she delivered a sweeping kick to the knife-weilding goon, hitting his wrist, knocking the knife out of his grasp. Without waiting for her feet to reach the floor again, she let her weight pull her downward, against the grip of the man behind her, then planted her feet on the floor and pushed back as hard as she could, knocking him off balance and backward. More prepared for the move than he was, she managed to plant one of her feet between his legs and hooked it behind one of his ankles.

He tripped, pulling her with him. She let her own momentum drive her head back into his face, and she heard another loud crunch as his nose shattered. He let out a loud grunt as the air was forced from his lungs.

Feeling her chance to break free, she rolled to her right, free from his hold and across the floor. Not losing a beat, she came to a stop, and in the same motion, went up to her knees, weapon drawn, took aim at the second closest assailant, who was trying to regain his own balance. She squeezed the trigger twice, causing his chest to explode in a red mist. She swung her weapon down to the man with the shattered ankle, putting two bullets in his head, then back to the one who she had broken free from, and put two more in his head.

By the time her first target hit the floor, all three men were dead.

Weapon still drawn, she surveyed the corridor, searching for new targets. Confident that there were none, she got to her feet and walked over to the now closing elevator doors, Doherty was cowering inside the elevator. She reached out toward him “come on, we don't have much time” she said, offering a hand.

He looked up at her, then peered out into the corridor, then back up at her. He hesitated for only a second before taking the proffered hand. She helped him to his feet, then out into the hallway.

Not wasting any time, she checked her weapon, then holstered it, grabbed the nearest body and dragged it over to the elevator, leaving a crimson streak on the floor as she went. She laid the body out, halfway on the floor and half inside the elevator, then proceeded over towards the nearest idle submachinegun.

Scooping the weapon up off of the floor, she mentally crossed her fingers as she removed the magazine, and examined the rounds: .40 S&W.

Good.

She drew her own weapon, ejected the magazine, transferred six rounds from the banana clip, discarded the remaining ammunition, then inserted the magazine back into her own weapon, giving a reassuring click as it slid home.

She looked back up at Doherty “alright, let's move.”

*-*-*

The city was impressive, much in the same way a mass grave was impressive. Lit by hundreds of work lights arrayed along the winding streets, hanging from buildings or mounted on stands, she wondered just how they had managed to excavate such a massive void out from under the ice without it collapsing.

She'd had a strong sense of unease almost from the moment she had landed at McMurdough, but after setting foot inside the dig site she felt as if the shadows themselves were watching her. The 'artwork' of the locale was bizarre; strange patterns which seemed to blend together, even the buildings themselves seemed to flow into each other. She knew it was just the shadows, and the fact that they were in a hurry, but the carvings and reliefs seemed to move and flow, almost as if they were alive. Twice they had found themselves accidentally circling around to a place they had already been.

They rounded one particular corner, then headed down an alleyway before coming to what looked like some kind of community gathering area, various stone obelisks of differing sizes, covered in markings were scattered about the area, the middle of the clearing had an irregularly shaped pyramid in it, maybe ten feet tall, uneven steps going up the sides.

The entire city made her feel uneasy, but this place felt particularly wrong. The two of them hurried across the area, and circled the pyramid.

“What?”

She stopped and looked at Kevin who stared back “I didn't say anything” he said.

She scanned the area, no apparent signs of life.

Could've sworn...

Pushing the thought aside, she started up again.

About a half mile or so further, and suddenly they came to a solid wall of ice, a hole had been drilled in it, wide enough for a car to drive through. About a half dozen people were loading items onto a cargo dolly.

Doherty turned to her “follow my lead, don't say anything” he said.

She raised an eyebrow “excuse me?” she said, surprised.

“Look, I'm sure you could kill your way across the whole complex, but I'm thinking it would be easier to avoid that.”

Putting her arms up “knock yourself out” she said.

He walked toward the group of people, she followed behind. One of the nearest people looked up and let out a loud grunt, immediately drawing the attention of the others as well. It was then that she realized that they were some of the 'different' people she had seen back inside the complex.

Surprisingly, Doherty didn't break stride “pardon me, but we are trying to make it to the processing center at site two, the tram from site three is down, would it be alright if we cut through the RMA-3 chamber?” he said. Clarice was impressed, he actually seemed convincing.

The other five all stared blankly at the two of them for a second, then turned to each other. Exchanging a series of incomprehensible grunts and gutteral noises. After a few seconds of 'deliberations' the lead one faced Doherty, let out dismissive sounding groan, then went back to its business, as did the rest of them.

Turning back to Clarice, Doherty gestured toward the tunnel “let's go” he said.

As they made their way down the darkened ice tunnel, Clarice cast a quick glance back in the direction from where they came “what the hell happened to those people?” she whispered.

“This place, the things from it, they change people. If you spend too much time here, it will change you too.”

He didn't say anything else.

She didn't bother to ask.

For several more minutes, they walked in silence before he spoke again “before we get there, I must warn you. The RMAs, even for this place, they are wrong. Don't look at them for too long, and don't waste time inside the chamber” he paused before giving her a look “we don't want to spend a single second longer in there than we need to.”

Again, she didn't bother to ask any more questions.

Of all the things found at the dig site, the Ross Magnetic Anomalies as they had been called were some of the least well described. Doctor Maye's notes were surprisingly scarce on the subject, it seemed like the people running the dig site were particularly concerned about them. What she did know wasn't too reassuring: they gave off a mysterious magnetic field that died out suddenly at about a five hundred meter range, they stood over one hundred meters in height and ten wide, they manifested strange optical effects on people around them, and they were so far impenetrable to all known forms of analysis.

Suddenly she felt the hair on the back of her neck stand up on end. Seconds later, she started feeling a faint sense of disorientation and nausea, the lights also seemed to grow dark too. Taking a look behind, Clarice couldn't see more than fifty feet behind her, even with lights lining the sides of the tunnels every five feet, they seemed unable to penetrate more than a couple feet into the darkness “what-” she tried to ask, but he cut her off.

“We're almost there, don't stop or slow down for anything. I mean it.”

Looking ahead again, she saw that the end of the tunnel was finally coming into view, barely thirty feet away, visibility was getting worse, the further they got. It seemed even colder somehow too, and she realized that their footsteps no longer echoed through the tunnel.

As they approached the mouth of the tunnel, she thought she could make out something beyond, even a hint of movement.

When they finally exited the tunnel, it opened into what seemed to be a massive chamber with something in the middle. It was huge, and soared up into the darkness. Somehow she could see it reaching far beyond the edge of the darkness. There seemed to be surface details, features all over it, ornate and complex in nature, endless patterns, bending in on themselves.

There was one, big, problem: it wasn't there.

It wasn't that the thing was black, or hard to see, or invisible, it just wasn't there. All of the lights inside the chamber cast no shadows on it, nor reflected back from the surface, in fact it didn't seem to have a surface at all. It was as if someone had literally cut a hole in the very fabric of existence and left nothing in its place.

Then there was something there staring back. It was her. She was naked, she had no eyes, blood was leaking out of the empty sockets and dripped from her outstretched hands, they were held up in front of her, a pair of mangled eyeballs sitting in the palms of her hands, almost as if she was presenting them as a gift. Her mouth was spread in a broad smile, almost an ecstatic grin. Suddenly Clarice could make out something behind herself. It was a city.

The buildings were on fire, collapsing in on themselves. Giant tentacles of dark fleshy substance reached up into the sky, they pulsated and shifted, knocking over skyscrapers like they were scale models. The sky... it was different, there weren't any stars, there were nothing but swirling changing shapes and colors, kind of like an oil slick, except there were colors up there that she didn't know were possible, other things floated up there too. Creatures, objects, she didn't know what they were, but they swirled and moved with the colors up there. Screams echoed off in the distance, and Clarice looked back down at the city below, the streets were full of bodies, mutilated and distorted, torn apart, limb from limb.

There were living things down there too, some looked like people, they were tearing each other apart, eating the dismembered body parts. Some of them looked like the changed people with pale green skin, their bodies either incredibly thinned out or bloated to monstrous proportions, others things looked like horrible mutations of other animals, merged together into strange mixes of different species.

Then there were some that looked like nothing she had seen before. Their skin was of some sort of horrid pulsating green and brown consistency, with a variety of different limbs and tentacles sprouting from their bodies. Others seemed to consist of nothing but giant blobs of protoplasm slithering through the air or on the ground, scooping the other creatures right up off of the ground and ingesting them violently.

She was now looking at herself from a different angle, she felt the sensation of strange appendages reaching to grab her naked flesh, it was the end, she welcomed it, the joy of death would finally come to her. She looked back at herself, standing in a large chamber of ice, weapon drawn. A pair of figures approached her. She whispered her own name.

“Clarice.”

The thing that had her positioned itself, moving her body, it violated her, penetrating every possible orifice, she shuddered in a mixture of pain and pleasure and horror and revulsion and pure ecstatic joy.

“Clarice!”

It ate her, it fucked her, it consumed her entire being.

“CLARICE!”

She was back in the chamber again, Doherty was shouting at her, he was shaking her by the shoulders, a pleading look in his eyes. Something was moving behind him, it was running toward them.

She shouldered past him, aimed her weapon and pulled the trigger twice. The thing before her shuddered as the two rounds slammed into its chest. She fired again, this time aiming for its head. Blood and bits of brain and skull exploded out from the points of impact. After what felt like a hundred shots, the thing stumbled and collapsed onto the floor, sliding toward them. Sidestepping the body, she ejected the mag and popped another one in its place, then turned her attention toward its companion. She emptied another mag into it as well, dropping it just before getting within reach.

She looked down at the freshly killed thing as she reloaded, there she got a good look at it. Its skin was indeed a greenish pale, covered in what looked like a thick sheen of some oily substance, dark red veins clearly visible below the surface, its eyes stared back at her lifelessly. She could see then what was so different about them, the irises were a pale yellow, with a strange swirling pattern within them. The pupils were square in stead of round. The teeth were elongated and sharp, a dark blue tint to them.

She brought her attention back to Doherty “I told you not to stare at it, we gotta get out of here” he said.

Nodding, she agreed, and they jogged toward the tunnel entrance on the far side of the chamber. The light inside the tunnel quickly started to get brighter as they got further from the chamber.

There were three of the people-things there when they exited, strangely they only gave the two of them a passing glance.

They made their way through the rest of the city, all the wile the images from the chamber filled her mind. She did her best to distract herself, but she just couldn't put them out of her mind.

The rest of the trip to the elevator room was rather uneventful. A few passing glances from the 'changed' people they passed, but no other run-ins.

Likewise, the trip up the elevator was quiet, she looked at him “how do we get from the elevator to artifact storage?” she asked.

He stood there in silence, the wheels in his mind working, then “we're going to get off at artifact processing, when we exit we take a left and follow the hallway until the second right. Follow that until we get to the fourth door on the left. That'll be artifact processing” he explained.

Clarice processed the information, committing it to memory “alright, when those doors open, I'm going to go fast, follow right behind me” she fixed him with an intense stare.

He nodded back, leaving the rest unsaid.

Giving her own weapon a quick inspection, her trigger finger tensed as the doors opened. Facing her was a single man, an MP5 clutched within his hands, raised up to his eyes, ready to fire. It was close. She just barely managed to beat him.

She pulled the trigger, oblitering the man's left eye. He let off a quick burst of four rounds himself as he fell back, they hit the ceiling harmlessly, sending bits of it tumbling to the floor kind of like a gentle snowfall over the now dead man.

She scanned the room as she stepped over the body, careful to avoid slipping in the expanding crimson puddle.

The hallway was surprisingly empty of enemy personnel. Half jogging down the corridor, they rounded one corner, again there were no targets present.

Just before rounding the final corner, she poked her head around for a fraction of a second. There was a single sentry standing beside the door. He appeared to not have noticed her.

Judging the distance to be about thirty feet, she slid around the corner, weapon at the ready. Two pops, and the sentry fell to the floor, dead.

Doherty worked the controls on the access panel, sliding his key card through, they were inside artifact processing in less than two seconds. There were three researchers inside the room, they looked up from their work at the two intruders. She reached inside her parka, pulled out a walkie-talkie and flipped it on. She looked over the three other people, they looked a quite sickly, but none of them were 'changed.'

Brandishing her weapon “I suggest that you leave if you care to live” she ordered, then pressed the transmit button on her walkie three times. A loud boom shook the room, prompting the original occupants to flee. Tossing the walkie onto the floor, she led Doherty toward the seven rows of shelves across the room. Counting off the aisles, she turned down the third one, then counted the sections until she reached the fifth one.

Finding the shelf marked “R-7” she spotted the item in question. It was a little larger than she expected. She gripped the handle and pulled it off of the shelf. It was lighter too. Setting it on the floor, she popped the latches on the odd looking metal case, and then opened it.

The item inside bore a resemblance to what was depicted on the woodcut, though she wasn't quite prepared for the reality. It was approximately cube shaped, a mix of what looked like obsidian and iron, and some unidentifiable red substance. Its surface was a mixture of weird swirling patterns, almost organic in nature, and jagged interlocking edges, almost like sharp teeth, clenched together in the mouth of a predator, but far more menacing.

As she looked at it, it almost seemed to start moving. Suddenly remembering what she had been told, she closed the case, and sealed the latches. Pressing the case into Doherty's hands “come on” she ordered. He complied obediently, following right behind.

As they made their way to the exit, the corridors seemed entirely devoid of life, Clarice guessed that whatever diversion that 'Tom Harper' had planned did its job quite well, or perhaps...

They burst out into the frigid Antarctic evening, coming face to face with a waiting UH-1, its rotors already spinning.

Better then FedEx she thought wryly as they crossed the helicopter pad and ambled up into the passenger compartment.

Hopping in ahead of him, she turned and faced Doherty, delivering a quick jab to his face. His forward momentum did most of the work, he collapsed down onto the frigid concrete below, a bewildered look on his face “what- why?!” he shouted at her.

She placed a foot on his wrist as she pointed her weapon at him “I almost believed it you know!” she shouted at him over the sound of the rotors and wind

“What? Believed what?”

She shook her head “You are pretty good, but our exit was just too damn easy, you also seemed to have forgotten your performance partway through the mission, my hat is off to you!” she said in a mock complimentary tone.

Before he got the chance to respond, she pulled the trigger, putting a bullet in his brain. She reached down and retrieved the case from his now lifeless hand.

She then hopped into the helicopter “what was that about?!” shouted the pilot as the helicopter lifted off.

She put one of the headsets on and sat in the copilot's seat, setting the case on her lap “I thought that the folks running security here were good, I was not mistaken” she explained, casting a glance back toward the body on the helipad.

*-*-*

An hour later she was hopping off the freshly landed helicopter, her mysterious benefactor leading the way. Just after they crossed the helipad, he reached inside his windbreaker and pulled out a remote control with a button on it. He pressed the button. A deafening boom erupted from behind her, and suddenly her back felt warm. A strong gust of hot wind pushed her forward, almost causing her to lose her balance.

Once inside, they paused for a second, trying to catch their breath. 'Tom' reached inside his parka and produced another remote detonator “We don't have a lot of time, once I set this off, you've got to head straight for the air strip” then he pressed the button. The building was shaken by an explosion.

He produced a computer disk from inside his parka “your employer is going to need the information on this disk. It's not much, but it'll be enough to get started” he explained. She took the disk in her hand, and when she looked up, he was holding a brick of C-4, he placed it on a crate up against the wall.

Furrowing her brow she gave him a perplexed look “they will hunt you to the ends of the earth looking for that. I have to sow enough confusion here to prevent them from figuring out what exactly happened” he explained.

“But-”

“Have to leave a body for them” he explained “hopefully they will think that the infiltrator was killed in one of the blasts” he smiled at her “if you survive long enough, I hope you get a good seat. The apocalypse should be a nice show” then he turned and pressed a button on the detonator.

She didn't bother to reason with him, and headed off.

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 Post subject: Re: Godforsaken Future - updated 11/29/2013 PostPosted: 2013-12-06 07:35am
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Youngling

Joined: 2009-12-19 10:47am
Posts: 108
Chtulu mythos and eldar things ??

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 Post subject: Re: Godforsaken Future - updated 11/29/2013 PostPosted: 2013-12-06 07:00pm
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Joined: 2010-03-22 02:14pm
Posts: 148
While this bears a strong resemblance to the Cthulhu Mythos, it is merely inspired by it. I want to add my own creations to it rather than be restricted by it. Though, I suppose you could claim that the aliens from the mini update bear a resemblance to the Mi-Gho.

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 Post subject: Re: Godforsaken Future - updated 12/7/2013 PostPosted: 2013-12-08 02:00am
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Youngling

Joined: 2010-03-22 02:14pm
Posts: 148
Somebody started speculating as to the mechanics behind Bozorg nuke teleportation and I decided to put up a bit of an outline of both the "history" and "science" of teleportation. Also, to those who just spotted that the "updated" date was changed, don't forget to go back and read episode 37 and the mini update before it.

______


Teleportation as is known by human science was first discovered in late 1943 by scientists working for the United States Navy based upon work discovered in the personal papers of Nikola Tesla(yeah he's overused, but fun all the same). The original intent of the infamous Philadelphia experiment was meant to find a way to bend radio waves in an attempt to create a form of stealth technology. Using a combination of tesla coils, radio transmitters, electromagnets, and a variety of other electronic equipment(both exotic and commonly used). The project; dubbed, RAINBOW was a crash program to adapt Tesla's research into practical applications. When initial small scale demonstrations proved promising, the War Department ordered a large scale test using the USS Edridge in Philadelphia harbor.

The experts involved in the project at the time had deduced that the devices they had created emitted an "abberant" electromagnetic field. The abberant field would actually bend radio waves around itself, or allow it to pass through any solid matter that was contained within.

Unfortunately, at the time, the full implications of the technology was not known, nor were many a of the specifics. The then embryonic scientific discipline of Abberant Fields was, unknown to the "experts" at the time based upon research that had many sizable holes in it.

This was in large part due to putting too much trust in Tesla's own conclusions. His research at the time was heavily affected by his deteriorating state of mind. His notes were somewhat difficult to interpret and the result was that the research based upon them was far more lacking than even the scientists performing it were aware.

It didn't help that Soviet agents who were aware of the existence of these papers(though lacking knowledge of their full contents) successfully managed to convince parties within the War Department that the Germans were pursuing similar technology. Failing to effectively infiltrate the government agencies in possession of Tesla's papers, and confident that a hastily prepared effort to develop such technologies would be easier to infiltrate, the GRU were hoping to be able to use an American research effort to act as a sort of "free" test case for their own purposes.

Unfortunately for them, J. Edgar Hoover; for reasons known only to him, took a particular interest in protecting the project, and managed to successfully prevent any serious penetration by Soviet agents.

The first small scale tests had been completed by June of 1943, successfully allowing radio waves to pass through a twenty centimeter metal reflector. Ecstatic about the early success of this and other tests, and fearful of a competing German project, the President himself ordered that the project be scaled up to a test involving a naval vessel.

Unfortunately, the extremely limited knowledge of A-Field theory at the time had failed to grasp several major principals of this technology:

-most importantly of all, an Aberrant Field was not so much a field as a portal into one of a number of alternate dimensions, each with their own physical laws.

-that by altering the electrical frequency under which the tesla coils operated, one could alter which plane of existence was accessed.

-the alternate physical properties of these dimensions would have differing effects upon objects from this universe that entered or passed through them, including biological matter


The prevailing knowledge of A-Field technology at the time posited that the larger the A-field, the higher the frequency, and consequently the larger the amount of energy that was required. While it is true that higher frequencies do require larger amounts of energy to work, the size of the A-field in question has nothing to do with the frequencies employed.

As a result of this faulty knowledge, on October 28, 1943, the USS Eldridge powered up its A-Field generator, opening a portal to an alternate dimension, and partially teleporting the vessel approximately 200 miles away to Norfolk Virginia before re-entering this universe.

What would later be determined about the dimension that the Eldridge entered was that time either did not exist or passed in such a different way to the way it does here that physical objects entering it experience time in an anomalous way.

For the crew this proved to be a particularly hazardous experience. Some aged at an accelerated rate, even going so far as to decompose into dust, others actually regressed in age, meanwhile others seemed to have aged at different rates on different parts of their bodies. Some experienced no time passage at all and weren't even aware that anything had happened. For the ones aware of the passage of time, it proved to be a significantly destabilizing experience. Many of those who did survive actually were either catatonic or suffered severe dementia for the rest of their lives.

The results of the project had such an impact on the powers that be that they immediately reclassified all information relating to it even tighter than before, going so far as to reuse the designation for it on the research project leading up to the U-2 spy plane.

Eventually, the true nature of A-fields was determined, and a dedicated program was established to look into practical applications for this technology.

By the sixties it was discovered that using frequencies in the 1-2 MHz range was more efficient and safe. By 1967, all teleportation had standardized on the usage of entrance and exit beacons to increase accuracy. By the eary seventies, the use of satellites in orbit was adopted as allowing for less computationally intensive teleportation, added energy efficiency, increased data for diagnostic usage, and the ability to detect a competing Soviet program.

This network of satellites would eventually be known as the ARROWHEAD Network. Orbiting at an altitude of approximately four hundred kilometers.

Similarly, the Bozorgs make use of the dimension accessed with frequencies in the 2.3 - 3.3 MHz range for the purposes of interstellar transit, communication, and certain defensive techniques. The exact mechanism of this is not known, however, it is subject to a lot of the same limitations that human teleportation technology is. The "jamming" technique that has been employed by the United States Government makes use of one of these limitations.

Each dimension that has been discovered to date is separated from this universe and each of the other dimensions by what can best be described as a "surface tension layer." Much like how the fabric of spacetime can be manipulated by strong gravitational forces, this layer can be manipulated by an A-Field, and by extension the "surface tension" can be broken, opening a portal to this dimension.

Due to certain physical characteristics of most of these dimensions and how portals behave, portals have a tendency to "arc" back on top of themselves like a fish jumping above the surface of the water and then landing back inside of it. The result is that when one opens an "entrance" portal into an alternate dimension, a second "exit" portal will open somewhere else in this universe. Due to the abnormal correlation between physical locations in each alternate dimension and ones in this one, it is exceedingly difficult to accurately teleport between two separate locations.

In order to figure out how to determine how to accurately teleport between two points, one must perform a series of short distance blind teleports. After enough tests have been conducted, a particular dimension has been "bracketed" and it becomes possible to conduct approximately where an exit portal will form for any given teleport. Unfortunately, the erratic nature of this correlation leads to a certain degree of chance when the exit portal is formed.

Fortunately, it was determined some time in the late fifties that it was possible to create a "bubble" in the tension layer of the target dimension through which certain kinds of electromagnetic radiation can be transmitted, and subsequently received through another bubble. Bubbles require far less energy to generate and far less sophisticated means. As a result, exit beacons are much easier to build and operate than full fledged portal generators.

In order to prevent the Bozorgs from opening portals connected to extraterrestrial locations, the ARROWHEAD network has been configured to transmit certain forms of EM radiation into the dimension used by the Bozorgs. The result is that within a certain radius of the bubbles generated by each ARROHEAD satellite, the tension layer is "disturbed" in such a way that transmitting almost all forms of electromagnetic radiation, and opening portals across this region becomes impossible. As a result, the ARROWHEAD network has generated a two-hundred kilometer thick "disturbance" layer in earth orbit through which the Bozorgs cannot transmit information or teleport. However, it is possible to access this dimension in any location not contained within the layer, which includes all locations inside a 300 kilometer altitude over the earth's surface and everything beyond a five hundred kilometer altitude.

The nature of the mechanics behind Enigma portals is not known, and since they are seemingly opened from inside their home dimension, the behavior of their portals are not subject to the same limitations and restrictions that human or Bozorg portals are subject to.

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 Post subject: Re: Godforsaken Future - updated 12/7/2013 PostPosted: 2013-12-11 02:57am
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Episode 38




"Technological progress is like an axe in the hands of a pathological criminal."
-Albert Einstein




-6:18 PM, May 7, 1988, Blackbird Research Facility, Nevada, United States





Greg sighed as he stared out over the exceedingly long table before him and the seemingly endless supply of test samples. There were fifteen tables in that room, and one-hundred-fifty samples per table. He brought the tape recorder up to his mouth “batch one, sample six, testing complete” he sighed.

Six down, twenty-two hundred and four to go.

He supposed that he was fortunate. After Black Wednesday, he had been stranded in an broken elevator for over thirty six hours. He then spent the remaining four days living off of canned vegetables and slept on a cot in a school gymnasium outside of Phoenix while he waited to be allowed back to work.

Worse, even after that, it had taken until just three days previous for them to get the reactors on base running at full capacity again. He had nothing to do but read the same old issue of National Geographic for over three weeks. At least he had something to do now. Not that it was very exciting.

And at least he wasn't working on the human trials. He shuddered at the thought.

Poor bastards.

Pushing the thought aside, he pushed the card over to the next sample. Picking up the tape recorder and placing it up to his mouth, he depressed the record button and started to speak “Doctor Greg Stamper, anomalous materials testing, entry for batch one, sample seven: one kilogram of silicon gel, commencing first test...” he placed the recorder down on the cart and picked up the compass, passing it over the entirety of the brick of inert silicon. Not surprisingly, the needle did not deviate. Putting the compass down, he picked up the recorder “batch one, sample seven, test one completed: no change” he said in a bored monotone.

*-*-*

Ten hours later, he was going through the same motions “batch three, sample fifty-eight, test fourteen completed: no change. Proceeding to test fifteen” he said, placing the recorder back on the cart. Then proceeded to pick up alligator clips attached to the red and black wires. He camped them onto the small nubs on the brick of aluminum, then picked up the recorder “setting to two volts and twenty watts” he said, turning the a pair of dials on the mailbox sized battery, waiting a second to see if anything happened and noting that nothing did. Picking up the digital thermometer, he pressed it to the surface of the sample, again, no change in surface temperature, then ran the compass over it, along with a dozen other diagnostic checks, nothing. He raised the recorder again “no cha-” he paused.

What was that?

He thought that he felt something for a fraction of a second, but figured it must have been his imagination “no change. Setting to four volts and forty watts” he said, turning the nobs again.

Again, he stared at the item for a couple seconds, observed no change, went through the motions of another round of diagnostics, and again observed nothing, and again he thought he felt something odd, but again couldn't put his finger on it probably just tired he thought to himself noting the clock on the wall tick past 4:30AM. He went through the same procedure for three more settings, up to thirty two volts and three-hundred-twenty watts. No change, so he turned to pick up the recorder, then paused.

The recorder was- no, the whole cart was moving.

What the hell?

Grabbing the push bar on the cart, he pulled it back toward him, then paused for a second in thought. He picked up the recorder with his free hand “possible change, hold on” he put down the recorder, then placed a hand over the sample and felt something push against it, almost too faint to notice.
His heart picked up the pace at the thought of something interesting finally happening, he reached back to the battery and turned the dials on the battery ever so slowly and watched the sample.

Realizing that the cart was starting to roll away again, he placed his foot on the bottom shelf of the cart, holding it in place. As the voltage and wattage climbed, to his amazement, the brick of aluminum started to shake, flipped over with a thud, then started to side across the table. Suddenly it jerked away, and pulled free from the alligator clips, finally sliding to the other side of the table and fell onto the floor.

He stood there in silence, stunned.

“Damn.”




-9:23 PM May 17, 1988, Perm Juvenile Processing Center 07, Perm Oblast, Russia, USSR




The burly looking Uzbek boy named Sukhrab was standing over the smaller Afghan boy as he cried into his hands, he muttered something that Farrukh didn't understand, then “Afghan, garbage” he said in broken Pashto.

She didn't much care for the smug piece of shit. He pounded on a weaker boy, and everyone surrounded and looked up to him as if he was some kind of champion. She thought it was pathetic.

With a sneer, Sukhrab drove a sharp kick into his victim's side, sending him rolling over as he sobbed, then spit on the cowering child before turning to walk away with a dismissive chuckle, the other children followed behind likewise laughing derisively at their leader's cruelty.

Tensing her muscles, Farruk's knuckles turned white as she clenched her fingers over the ragged shoe. In one swift motion, she hurled it at the bully, and watched it as it flew across the exercise room, hitting him in the shoulder with a gentle thud.

Sukhrab let out a growl and what Farrukh was certain was a long string of Uzbek profanities. Spinning around, his eyes were aflame with rage as he searched for the source of the attack, he didn't have far to search, Farrukh was the only one not crying on the floor or in his gang of lackeys. His glare met hers “fuck Uzbek” she responded in her own broken rendition of the language.

He took one deliberate step, then another, fists clenched tightly. She could tell that he intended to take out his anger on her with utmost brutality, she decided not to let him get the chance.

With speed and ferocity that surprised even her, she leaped to her feet, and lunged at him, her face was a visage of anger. In far less time that she realized, the distance closed, and she snarled as she threw herself at him, latching onto her enemy and clawing and tearing and punching.

It felt as though her rampage would go unopposed, and thought that perhaps she would be victorious after all. That came to an end as his his knuckles slammed into the side of her head with a sharp pain. It was enough to disrupt her own violent thrashing. He did not waste his time either. She suddenly felt his strong arms prying at her body. With a few seconds of struggle, his strength overpowered her's and she had been knocked to the floor.

Before she had the chance to regain her bearings, she felt another sharp blow square on her nose, and then an even harder force struck her in the stomach, it was more dull than the last two, but far more intense.

Given enough time to recover a little, she managed to look up at him. He was staring back, a vicious grin on his face. She could make out a couple scrapes, and even the beginning of a bruise or two forming. She sneered back at him, drawing immense satisfaction at having done some damage.

Not failing to notice the still defiant look on her face, his grin turned to a scowl. His weight shifted, and soon he was extracting his foot from her stomach.

About twenty seconds later she was alone in the exercise room with the Afghan boy. He looked over at her as she picked herself up off the ground, her gut protesting the whole way “thank you for sticking up for me, my name is Jamal” he said, grateful.

She tasted blood as it had run down from her nose, over her upper lip and into her mouth. She wiped the blood off and then spat “shut up” she spat the words just as she had the blood onto the floor.

Jamal gave her a look of confusion “but-” he said, hurt.

Walking toward the exit, she cast him a dismissive glance “I will do one favor for you” she started to explain “a piece of advice.”

She reached the door and opened it, then looked back in his direction “stop being so weak. It's why they go after you. You're easy” she said before turning and leaving the room.

*-*-*

Vadim scribbled a note onto the pad with a pencil as he watched the feed from the security camera “you like this one?” said a voice behind him. It was the administrator.

Turning to face his superior “that Afghan girl, she seems to have potential” he said with a nod.

The administrator returned his own nod “good” he replied “keep a watch on her, we'll see about adding her name to the list of candidates” he said before turning to leave the observation room.




-12:28 AM May 21, 1988, London, England, United Kingdom



RING!

Something was stabbing at the pleasant darkness like a sharp knife into soft flesh, it was not welcome.

RING!

His eyes shot open as the sound of the phone ringing finally registered in his mind. He didn't know how many times it had rung before waking him, but whoever was on the other end had better hope it was important.

His hand went over to the phone, he gripped the handset, lifting it off the receiver and bringing it over to his ear “Cubbage” he said groggily.

“Sorry for waking you Tom, but we've got a situation, you'd better get down here.”

It was Tony Fish, the watch officers, and evident by this call at such an ungodly hour, also the poor devil who had been stuck running the show during graveyard “what is it?” asked Tom.

There was a pause, some commotion could be heard in the background “I've got some things to deal with right now Tom, best if you just come on down and I'll explain when you get here.”

It took Tom about ten minutes to throw a uniform on and find himself riding the elevator down to the command center. He had had much to say about the inefficiencies of Her Magesty-

He had to shake his head, at the thought.

-His Magesty's Government, but in times of war, it did have a certain... determined purpose to it.

After Black Wednesday, the entire cabinet had been moved to Whitehall and had not left since, it did make getting into place when a crisis arose that much easier. The Americans had made a similar move, with Ronald Reagan's administration having moved into the bunker under the White House.

Finally, the doors slid open, and there waited Tony “alright, let's get to it” Tom ordered.

His subordinate nodded as they both headed toward the command center “the Americans picked up some heat blooms over the water off the southeast coast of Greenland approximately thirty minutes ago. They orbited a Keyhole satellite over the area and spotted some sort of entity crawling out of the ocean onto the beach” Tony explained as he opened a door for Tom.

“Something new from the Enigmas?” asked Tom.

Tony shook his head “we don't think so, the heat blooms appeared to be explosions, and a closer look at the entity indicated that it was one of the Bozorgs” he said.

Intrigued, Tom raised an eyebrow “indeed” responded Tony “more interesting is that shortly after the first heat blooms started showing up over Greenland, more were spotted elsewhere.”

Both eyebrows raised this time “how many?” he asked just as they rounded the last corner to the command center.

Since the start of the war, there had been significant refurbishment to the military offices at Whitehall, particularly the addition of several sizable rear-projection displays. The largest depicted a world map, the blue was human controlled territory, the Yellow, Bozorg territory, and the green, Enigma. Of particular interest were the red icons scattered in and around Enigma real estate. There must have been scores of them.

Tony gestured up toward the display “those are spots where we've picked up heat blooms, some of them have additional creatures, others are just explosions. We've counted an estimated eighty seven creatures thus far” he declared,

Pursing his lips, Tom pondered the map “how big are they?” he inquired.

“Estimates place them at about three times the size of their behemoth variants. We've also spotted swarms of smaller ones as well, analysis is still working on identifying them.”

Letting out his breath in a hiss, Tom contemplated the situation “what about the others?” he asked.

“that's something a little more troubling. We actually didn't know what those were when I called you, but after that I got a bulletin from the Russians, one of their early warning satellites picked up what looked like projectiles of some kind launched from Bozorg territory at the Enigmas on a sub-orbital ballistic trajectory.”

Tom eyed the coffee machine over in the corner and made a beeline over toward it “alright, I want you to get together everything we've got on these incidents, we'll work on putting it into something suitable for ingestion, I'll get on the phone to the Defense Minister's office in about five minutes. Set up a briefing in half an hour” he ordered before pouring himself a tall cup. He was going to need a lot of caffeine before the day was out.





-4:16 AM May 27, 1988, Moscow, Russia, USSR




He could tell that he was in the trunk of a car despite having a hood pulled over his head. The cramped nature of the space, plus the feeling of rubber padding he was laying on would have been enough to tell, but the rumble of the engine and constant shaking of the car as it drove over various bumps and potholes in the road confirmed it.

His elbow ached from most of his weight pressing on it, and he tried to roll into a more comfortable position. Suddenly the car came to a halt, shoving him into something hard and pointy. Just then the trunk opened, indicated by the gust of cool air hitting him. Two sets of hands grabbed him by both the feet and shoulders. They didn't seem to much care about his comfort.

Moments later he was dropped on a hard, cold, surface, possibly concrete.

“Greetings Comrade Colonel.”

He did not recognize the voice, though the one thing he did know was that the owner of it was a dead man.

Suddenly the hood was pulled up off of his head and he was hoisted to his knees. It took his eyes a second to get adjusted, but soon he started to see who his antagonist was.

A younger looking man in a dark suit with a receding hairline was sitting behind a desk in front of him, the rest of the room was too dark to make out any details, light shone only on he and his captor “Colonel Anatoly Kulikov, it is such a shame that we meet under these circumstances” said the man behind the desk, he did not look up.

Anatoly scowled at him “I don't know who you are, but I'll have your testicles on a plate!” he shouted.

The mystery man shook his head “such a savage way to address your gracious host” he said, almost as if he were a schoolmaster scolding an errant child.

“Who do you think you are? I-”

“My apologies sir. I am Vladimir Putin, and you are in serious trouble.”

“You are a doomed man, that's who you are!”

Putin looked up for the first time since Anatoly had arrived, his expression actually gave Anatoly pause “that is the second time you have threatened me since you got here, I must teach you some manners” Putin said, casting a glance up at someone behind Anatoly.

Suddenly he felt a sharp pain in the back of his leg and he fell face-forward onto the cold floor, splitting his lip on impact. Immediately two sets of hands grabbed him by the arms and pulled him back up to his knees. Facing his captor once again, he spat “you idiot, I know people-” another sharp pain struck him in the back of the leg, and again he found himsef lying face down on the floor, this time his left cheek took the brunt of the impact.

Brought back to his knees, he was facing Putin again, the man was looking back at the file folder before him, a nonchalant expression on his face made him look as if he was having a casual read of Pravda “yes yes, I'm well aware of your new found friends” he said with a dismissive wave in Anatoly's direction.

The man behind the desk did not wait for a response “and they have been quite good to you haven't they?” the question was quite obviously rhetorical. Putin flipped a page inside the file “for your help last November, I gather that you are going to be given a promotion for your troubles” his tone was almost disinterested, as if the contents of the folder were more important to him than the bound and bleeding man standing before him.

Anatoly sneered “what are you? Some jealous officer who couldn't quite handle the pressures of combat? Is your envy of my bravery in Uzbekistan that great that you would resort to this?” he spat the words at the other man.

“You still maintain the deception? Good, I would expect no less of someone that they had chosen to induct into their ranks, I don't imagine that standard interrogation techniques would much work either.”

“What the fuck are you talking about?”

“The munitions you requisitioned.”

Picking a previously unseen piece of paper up off of the desk in front of him, Putin came to his feet and walked over until he was standing right in front of Anatoly. He brought the paper up to Anatoly's face, he scanned it to see what it was. A few seconds examination revealed that it was movement orders for some logistics battalion “you were quite careful otherwise, it was almost disappointing that you would be this sloppy even once” explained the other man “to think that you would leave your signature on something that could link you directly to such an unbelievable act of treason.”

As if prompted to do so, Anatoly looked to the bottom of the form, and saw the signature at the bottom, it was indeed his “so I signed some orders to move a few trucks. So what?” Anatoly responded “ordering trucks around is an act of treason now?” he asked sarcastically.

Putin walked back to the desk, placing the paper on top of it “it is if their cargo was used to sabotage the war effort, especially if it was used to kill thousands of brave Soviet soldiers in their struggle against the Bozorgs” he explained before turning around again.

A snigger escaped Anatoly's lips “what in the name of Lenin's left testicle could you possibly be getting at?” he asked.

Picking up the folder, he held it aloft “you are correct, the movement orders alone don't prove much. Unfortunately the significant amount of paperwork linking them to several thousand kilograms of missing explosives does” he said, as if preforming for an audience that was hiding in the shadows, out of sight.

Anatoly's stomach lurched as an intense feeling of dread came over him “you're bluffing” he challenged the other man who in response gave him a look that told him that there was no bluff.

The other man's lips spread in a smile that could have curdled milk “oh, we can go over these documents in vivid detail Comrade Colonel, lay out the full gravity of your crimes, right before you detail to me your dealings with them” he explained.

Trying to muster some measure of courage, Anatoly scowled back, though he wasn't sure he was convincing.

*-*-*

Alexie pondered the three men exiting the warehouse, two of them were carring a lifeless form wrapped in plastic.

He wondered if he should be impressed or disappointed. He had expected that the interrogation would have lasted several days, and he heard the crack of a gunshot only twelve hours after the now dead man had been dragged inside, indicating that Mr. Putin had gotten all that he needed from the unfortunate colonel. Either the interrogation was more effective than previously thought, or the colonel was far weaker than Alexie had assumed.

Either way, he most certainly was impressed with how effective the KGB man had been at uncovering the activities of the Y'lnarx Covenant. He assumed that it would have taken Putin at least another three months to figure things out.

As the car pulled away, he made a mental note of his observations. His superiors would be interested to hear of these developments, the time to act may have been sooner than previously thought.




-7:28 PM June 3, 1988, somewhere in central Mexico




Alien feet disturbed the underbrush, about six or seven pairs of them. Meanwhile a set of insect feet crawled up her arm, maybe it was a spider, maybe it was a scorpion. Didn't really matter, her urge was to brush it aside. An urge she had little choice but to ignore. The sound of those footsteps got closer, and the tension mounted. Her grip tightened on the handle of her kbar.

She did not have long to wait.

One such pair of feet got uncomfortably close, maybe six feet distant, maybe less. She readied herself as the owner of those feet approached. Now four feet away.


Now two.

Hot pain engulfed the tip of her left pinkie finger and ran up through her hand all the way to her shoulder. The Enigma's leg stood literally inches from her face, so close she could practically taste it. Then, just like that the weight lifted and the skinny soldier moved away.

BANG!

The gunshot echoed through the ravine, signaling the start of the attack. Instantly she sprung into action, tightly coiled muscles releasing like taught springs. Almost instantly, she had gone from an almost prone position to standing completely erect. Her eyes had long since adjusted to the darkness, and they searched for a target, systematically scanning the body of her chosen opponent, no more than two feet in front of her.

She made no groans or vicious war cries, she merely moved with silent, deadly precision. She had been fortunate, the skinny soldier had passed her, its back facing her, but was still within arms reach, this would be easier. Her brain calculated, taking images in her mind and comparing them to what was before her, trying to complete her search for the right spot.

There!

The virtually nonexistent ambient light reflected off of the different surfaces of the skinny's back, various mechanisms and machines, the purpose of which she couldn't even begin to guess at. Her primary target was the coffee can shaped object protruding from the top third of its back.

Those reflections shifted, she had been spotted, and now the skinny was trying to turn to face her. It was already too late. Already having brought her arm back, her muscles were wound and ready to launch the attack. Her kbar came down with ferocious speed.

She felt metal hit metal, and then metal cutting metal, and just like that the blade of her kbar was planted all the way to the hilt into the back of her opponent.

When it suddenly went limp, she had almost lost her grip on her weapon, but she held tight and her blade slipped back out as the alien body collapsed to the ground.

It had been maybe two or three seconds, and yet so much had happened. The first target now felled, her eyes scanned the area looking for another, her weapon at the ready.

There were in fact eight skinnies, by the time she had finished with her's, four others had likewise been killed.

Before she had managed to choose a second target to go after, the remaining three had likewise been taken down.

About a minute passed in tense uncertainty as the area was searched for any additional enemies. None were found.

The tension lifted.

Less than ten minutes later they were all back with the rest of the “unit.”

It was a rather loosely used term, about thirty or so Marines, and regular army from multiple nations: American, Mexican, Panamanian, even a handful of Cubans. On top of that there were about eighty or so civilians with them “Corporal Vasquez!” said Lieutenant Barrett as he approached her, she came to attention.

She cursed the damned artillery officers who had had exceptionally good or exceptionally bad aim that day. Either because that asshole Barret had somehow survived “that was some good work down there. As you were” he said, delivering a pat on her shoulder with the stump of his left arm.

Or because she had.

Her muscles relaxed “thank you sir” she replied.

“Go inform everyone, we're moving out in about ten minutes, hopefull before the next Skinny patrol comes by. We won't be that lucky a second time” he ordered.

She nodded in response “aye sir” she said before turning away, he likewise headed off in his own direction.

Seconds later she was about ready to go when she heard his voice again “oh, and Vasuez?” he said from the top of a hill about twenty feet away.

She slung her rifle over her shoulder before facing him “sir?”

If a silhouette could grin that's what his was doing right then “keep volunteering like that and if you don't die, I may just have to make you a sergeant, no matter how much you hate it” he said before turning and leaving.

She thought she heard him chuckling as he walked away, but couldn't be sure.



-9:25 PM May 28, 1988, Easton, Maryland, United States




A chilly breeze whipped through the Days Inn parking lot as Roger worked his way up the stairs. A quick survey of the area revealed no one shadowing him. It had been the fifth such check he had performed since arriving there. Paranoia was hardly a foolish habit as far as he was concerned.

He reached the door shorty, then knocked five times “who's there?” came a muffled voice from behind the door.

He cleared his throat “do you like your room?” he said back.

“The sheets need freshening” came the reply.

“Perhaps you should hang them out in the fresh air.”

A second passed in silence, then he heard the sound of the door unlocking Clarice met his gaze “took you long enough” she said, annoyed.

He shrugged “if you hadn't heard, there is a war on. I've got responsibilities. Can't just hop on over here any time I want” was his response. She stared at him for a second longer “can I come in?” he asked, a little annoyed himself.

She let out a sigh and stepped away from the doorway, allowing it to open. He followed her in, closing the door behind him.

She was dressed in dingy sweats, her hair was oily and unkempt, and the room smelled of cigarettes and booze, and none of the lights were on. She sat down at the table in the corner and snatched a glass of whiskey off of the table and drained its contents, then started to fill it again from the open bottle, also sitting atop the table “what the fuck is going on?” he asked.

She shrugged “been taking a much needed vacation” she said absently before retrieving an already lit cigarette from the ashtray.

She took a drag.

Without being invited, he sat down on the other chair, then eyed the gun on the table “well, you look like shit” he said, placing his briefcase on the floor.

Exhaling a puff of smoke “well fuck you too” she said before taking another gulp from her glass.

He took a second, and recomposed himself “look, sorry. You just... you don't seem yourself” he gave her a sympathetic look “I'm worried.”

Putting out her cigarette “yeah, I'm sorry too. Been a tough few weeks” she said before draining her glass again.

He reached across the table and snatched the bottle up before she could refill her glass. She gave him a look of protest. He studied the bottle “never took you for a whiskey drinker” he said “at least drink something better than this cheap shit” he said before upending the bottle and taking a swig of his own.

Swallowing it with a wince, he offered her the bottle again “yeah, well top shelf stuff has been a little hard to come by these days” she replied, taking the bottle from him “in case you hadn't heard, there's a war on” she gave him a grin as she poured herself another glass.

“Mind if I turn a light on?” he asked, but didn't wait for an answer as he got up and flipped the light switch by the door. Getting a better look at her, he noticed that she was remarkably pale “Christ, you need to get some sun” he said before sitting down again.

She popped another cigarette into her mouth and produced a lighter from the pocket in her sweat pants, clicking it multiple times before achieving ignition. She took a long drag, drawing the small flame into the tip of the white cylinder “well, being on the ass-end of the Earth for a month and a half will do that to you” she said, tossing the lighter onto the table.

Tossing his jacket onto the bed, he sat back down “what the hell happened down there? You were on assignment for less than two months. I can't imagine that you managed to get a decent amount of intel in such a short stretch of time.”

Her look became very serious all of a sudden “you'd be surprised” was her only answer. After several seconds of him impatiently staring at her, she relented “it's worse than we thought” she stopped to take a deep gulp from her glass before continuing “much, much worse” then another.

Roger furrowed his brow “what? Are they collaborating with the Bozorgs?” he said, half sarcastic.

Clarice shook her head “we aren't so lucky. These guys are up to something truly nasty, shit that you can't even imagine” she stared off into the distance “shouldn't even imagine” she added.

“From the second I got there things seemed... wrong. The people who had been there for a while were sick or something, kind of like you see with people they pull out of war zones, only different. That is, except for the people running the show. The 'administrator' as they call him, and all of his goons, they seemed healthy, but not. I always had a bad feeling whenever I saw one, like somebody just walked over my grave. Especially the administrator.”

The way she said that word indicated that she had more than just suspicion regarding that person “any idea who he is or who he works for?” he asked.

She shook her head “I don't think he works for anyone, at least I hope not” came her answer.

Seeing his raised eyebrow “let's just say that whoever would give him orders is not somebody I'd ever want to meet. The man never seemed to stop smiling, ever. Frankly, if he had ripped the skin off his face, he would have looked more pleasant.”

“As to who he is, I couldn't say. He's got an accent I cannot for the life of me identify. He's got a dark complexion, but I can't place his ethnicity. There is something odd about his appearance, but I can't put my finger on it. And when he looks at you...”

She paused a second to take another long drag “it's, it's like he knows everything there is to know about you. Most everyone at McMurdo gives him a wide berth. There're scientists, professors in physics and archeology cower in fear of the man as if he was the devil himself. Maybe they're not wrong” smoke escaped from her nostrils with that last declaration.

He scratched his chin “I'm not sure I understand what you're getting at, you've dealt with monsters before, you've done work in Africa, the Middle East-” she cut him off with a sharp jab of her finger in his direction.

“Dammit Rog, I'm not fucking around here!”

She gave him a penetrating look “you weren't there. You think the bugs or the skinnies are the real monsters? Fuck. All they can do is kill you” she said to an incredulous Roger. Continuing before he had the chance to interject “something was happening to the people down there. They get changed. Something sucks the life out of them, and it's not just the lack of sun, and the people at the dig site...” she trailed off before taking a swig right from the bottle.

A curious look on his face “what about the people at the dig site?” he asked.

Clarice's eyes went up to meet his, and suddenly he felt a chill go down his spine “they aren't people, not anymore. They're aliens, monsters, I dunno. Their skin is green, their eyes are all yellow, with sharp teeth. They don't even seem to be able to speak anymore, they grunt and roar like animals. I killed two of them. I unloaded one clip into each one. I did not miss.”

He was inclined toward a certain level of skepticism, but the look on her face disposed him of such ideas “ok, but why, how did this happen?” he asked.

A wry look came across her face “I don't know, I'm no scientist, and I don't even know if there are any scientists could even begin to understand what's going on out there” she took another swig.

Roger nodded “ok, well then just tell me what you do know, start from the beginning.”

*-*-*

Two and a half hours later he was sitting there in stunned silence. If it were anyone else, he would have thought they had lost it, but he knew Clarice, even if she'd imagined half of what she had told him, it still meant that something was seriously wrong down there, maybe a bigger problem than anything else in the world.

Despite the implications of what he had just learned, something else was bothering him “what?” she asked, almost as if she could read his thoughts.

He furrowed his brow for what was not the first time that night “the man you met there; Tom. Any idea who he was working for?” he inquired.

She shrugged “couldn't really say, but I'm pretty sure he wasn't working for the Soviets” she put up a hand to stay his objections “not just because he said so, the way he handled himself, his cover story. I spent my whole career learning how to spot a Russian spook, and I just got this strong feeling that he was working for someone else, not one of the usual players, somebody we've not encountered before.”

They were both thoughtful for a moment, then “so what do you think our next step should be?” he asked.

She got up from her chair “don't ask me. The only thing I'm good at is killing people, you're the brains of this operation” she replied sarcastically. Putting out her cigarette, she headed toward the bathroom “I do have one idea” she announced.

“And that would be?”

She gave him a sidelong glance just before reaching the door “I'm going to take a shower, and then get fucked silly. Care to join me?”

For the first time that night he smiled and the expression was genuine “now that-” he started getting up himself “-sounds like an excellent idea.”




-04:12:17:36 Mission time, June 7, 1988, somewhere on Mare Smythii, Luna




“Roger that Vandenberg, preparing to open the airlock, please standby” said Ken Mattingly as he turned away from the visage of the little blue marble peeking just above the horizon “care to give me a drumroll Colonel?” he asked.

“I'm afraid I did not bring a drum with me Admiral” a Russian accented voice crackled in his ear.

Ken chuckled “it's just a-” he cut himself off “nevermind Vlad” he said as his gloved hand gripped the crank-wheel. It took a bit of elbow grease, but after a second or two, it gave way to his efforts.

Thirty seconds later they had piled into the darkened airlock, and Colonel Titov swung the hatch closed. It was cramped in there, barely enough room for both of them, and definitely not enough for them to move around. Ken faced the inside hatch, the optical window no more than a back disk. He reached up to his chest with his right hand and gripped the GT-12, then tugged it free from the velcro patch securing it in place. Gripping the head of the flashlight, he twisted it until he felt the reassuring click and the seemingly impenetrable darkness of the airlock was illuminated once again.

The decking beneath his boots vibrated as Vlad worked the airlock behind him “this is Colonel Titov, airlock secured Vandenberg, requesting permission to equalize pressure with the inside of the station” came the Russians voice through the radio.

A second ticked by in silence.

“Roger that Colonel, permission granted, proceed with equalizing pressure.”

Leaning forward slightly, Ken placed his flashlight up to the optical window and attempted to peer through it into the station “Vandenberg, this is Mattingly, I'm attempting to get a look inside the station” he announced. It was hard to get a good look between the awkwardness of the cramped airlock, the restrictions of his bulky helmet, and the narrowness of the window.

“Everything looks in order Vandenberg, nobody home.”

“Roger that Ken.”

There were one or two points of light off in the distance, and a myriad number of tubes, pipes, wires, and countless other pieces of equipment. He started to notice the faint sound of hissing that was growing in volume “this is Titov, Vandenberg, I've opened the valves, equalizing now, please standby”

“Roger that Colonel, standing by.”

Seconds passed and the hissing grew louder, then slowly subsided “Vandenberg, Titov, pressure has equalized” came the announcement.

Nodding to no one in particular, Ken reached for the crank on the inner hatch “this is Mattingly Vandenberg, requesting permission to open the inner hatch and proceed inside.”

“Roger that, permission granted. Proceed inside, keep your helmet on until you can sample the air.”

“Roger Vandenberg, keeping my helmet on.”

Gripping the crank, he worked it loose and spun it counter-clockwise. Seconds later he had pushed the hatch open and begun to step through into the station.

He shone his flashlight throughout the darkened utility module, it was surprisingly spacious, though compared to the cramped nature of the airlock, a broom closet would have seemed spacious. The light played off of the switches, panels, tubes, wires, bolts, and countless components inside the thirty foot long cylinder.

The previous crew had done a good job constructing the base, a lot accomplished for just seven days work.

Satisfied that everything looked good, he cleared his throat “utility module looks to be in good working order Vandenberg, no damage apparent, requesting permission to open my visor.”

“Roger that Ken, permission granted. Proceed.”

Taking a couple more steps inside, he turned around and faced his companion “wish me luck” he said as he handed his flashlight to the Russian.

Titov accepted the flashlight with a nod “good luck” he replied.

His hands went up to the seals on his visor, in a couple seconds they had been released and he swung up the visor.

He took a deep breath.

The air was frigid and stale, no worse than Chicago in February, “this is Mattingly, Vandenberg, feels just like home” he reported.

“Roger that Ken, sorry to hear that.”

“Thanks Vandenberg, come on Vlad, let's see about turning the heat on in here.”

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 Post subject: Re: Godforsaken Future - updated 12/10/2013 PostPosted: 2013-12-11 05:34pm
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Absolutely excellent fic, really enjoying the Bozorgs and the "human" enemies, seems fairly realistic as interaction goes. Also, it isn't very nice of you to throw The Crawling Chaos at the main characters too, and he has access to Old One-esque ruins as well.



Deep in the human unconscious is a pervasive need for a logical universe that makes sense. But the real universe is always one step beyond logic.

Entropy-the collapse of everything, of meaning, of language, of values, of art, disorder and dislocation wherever you look, entropy drowns everything...

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 Post subject: Re: Godforsaken Future - updated 12/10/2013 PostPosted: 2013-12-11 06:22pm
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Location: Rhode Island
If humanity makes it out of this whole mess alive, I will be very confused.



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 Post subject: Re: Godforsaken Future - updated 12/10/2013 PostPosted: 2013-12-11 06:39pm
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I wouldn't be surprised if they came out alive, sane on the other hand, not so much. Nyarlathotep M.O., if this is either the same or a similar character, doesn't exist to destroy like all the other Outer Gods, he takes more pleasure in corrupting and driving people to insanity rather than wanton destruction.



Deep in the human unconscious is a pervasive need for a logical universe that makes sense. But the real universe is always one step beyond logic.

Entropy-the collapse of everything, of meaning, of language, of values, of art, disorder and dislocation wherever you look, entropy drowns everything...

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