Experiment – (Book 1 and 2)

Authors note: This is my first attempt at doing a FULL narrative piece. I began it when I was 10, had many large breaks, but thanks to some helpful feedback from a friend, I finished it, and went on to doing the second. Because both were relatively short, with only 109,508 words all up for both, I kept them merged. I have redrafted this several times for the first book, not the second. If people like the narrative, message me and motivate me to redraft and edit the complete edition.
I hope you enjoy this sci-fi war tale of one mans journey of horror and survival as he slowly goes forth to learn who he really is, and what he must do if the war plaguing mankind is to come to an end.

(Ps: There’s a better way to take work right from MS-Word and copy it into here, so I’ll update that shortly after I refresh my memory on that. For now, there’s other work to be done!)

~Shea

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“He who fights with monsters should look to it that he himself does not become a monster… when you gaze long into the abyss the abyss also gazes into you…”
-Friedrich Nietzsche

Experiment
Subject

By Shea Meadth

Prologue
Peace. The one thing that is impossible to obtain, at least until the year 2200AD. In this year the 5th world war ended. The war had cost the second largest amount of lives in any world war. After it ended, the leaders of the countries made a treaty, one that would stop any more wars. The treaty was signed. Everyone agreed to living in peace.
To show the world that everyone was united, and that no more wars would happen. A large space station was constructed. The Orion was the greatest and largest man made structure ever to be built, especially in space. It was finished in 2270 in which people began to colonise the station. It is 2,000,100 miles long and 1,100,000 miles wide
During this an army was formed to protect the peace that we had struggled so hard to get, the United Nations Defence Federation. Elected to be in control of this was Tanaka lee Wong. An Asian, American man who had a long time of service in the army and was one of the few involved in the master plan that stopped the war. The second in command was a man named Robertson Cross. An American man put in charge of managing the army.
The peace worked in everyone’s favour. Most third-world counties were fixed up and are no longer third-world. Diseases were wiped out, pollution had been minimized globally by 37% and every one was happy. Until 2295.
On the day of the 21/5/95, ICBMs went off in five of the worlds’ major capitals. Washington, Tokyo, London, Canberra and Moscow were virtually destroyed and millions of lives had been lost. Then from the ashes of these great capitals, arose a powerful enemy who called themselves the Iron Fist of Earth.
The UNDF came in to stop this uprising before it could do any more damage. But it was of no use. The uprising prevailed and over a period of 5 years, control over the earth changed and the IFE took control over half the world. There is still no recorded information on who is the leader of this organization, but the right hand man is believed to be Meric Klovouske, an Englishman who is an expert in technology and hacking the Internet. It is believed that he was the one who launched the ICBMs. These days, there are rumours going about that the IFE is working on dangerous new experiments that could tip the act of world domination in their favour. But no one is sure any more. So far this war has cost more than 6 million lives. Will the suffering ever end?

* * *

Who am I? My name is Johnson Cross. My friends just call me John. I do not have much of a memory of my childhood. At least I chose not to remember. At the age of 5 (2272) I was placed in an orphanage after being caught stealing from a corner store. I lived there till I was 13. I hated living there, everyone was too cheerful. It sickened me. A constant reminder of the memories I tried to suppress. On August 13th 2280 a man came to the orphanage. He was a strange man, but he had a strong look to him and a sense of power. We were lined up along the wall and the man inspected all of us. Only giving a quick glance out of his eyes then moving onto the next. Until he reached me. He stood in front, not facing me directly, just staring. I tried not to make eye contact, but it was impossible. I remember those eyes, dark, cold eyes, piercing into the back of my skull. Before I knew it he had walked off and began signing some papers. Then he came back, knelt down and for the first time I saw his crooked smile. He explained that he had adopted me, and then he took me away, my new father, right-hand man of the UNDF, Robertson Cross.
For the rest of my life I lived with him, and as I grew older I came to think of him as more than a father, but my hero. I looked up to him and wanted to follow in his footsteps. That’s why I went through to Oxford University at the age of 18 and studied chemistry, arts, history and my favourite, physics. I loved the idea of rockets and flying, and if be cliché, explosives. I wanted to become an engineer mostly, get a high enough degree so I could one day go work on Orion. After graduating, my father pointed out a way that would assure that I would follow my dreams. I enlisted in the army in 2286 and underwent extensive training in engineering, pyro-technics and computer technician. I was in the army all the way up to 2293. I left the army to follow a different path. My father was not pleased about this, I don’t think he wanted me to abandon my dreams of working on Orion, though looking back, he might have been following his own intentions. But he didn’t try to stop me; he let me make my choice. For the next two years I worked at a small computer industry, building computers, programming and what not.
As you know, IFE detonated ICBM’s and the war began. I was called back to service and for ten years I have fought side-by-side with my best friend from collage, Jimmy who apparently did five years of sapper work in the same barracks I was at without me even knowing it. George, or Led man as we call him, I’ll explain that story later. There’s Phillip who I don’t know too much about. I’ve only known him four about a month. We call him Junior. Duncan, one of the best on field medics around. He’ll patch up your wound before you know you’ve been hit. And finally our squad leader, Jason, nicknamed Newton. I’ve never seen anyone with as much smarts as him, but I’ll get back t you on that later. My time is short, I wake up in the morning, go to a meeting, and now I’m in a dropship heading off to an enemy base in the middle of a crater in the Amazon rainforest. Normally this wouldn’t be strange, but today I am placed in a dropship different to that of my squad members. I stand next to two other soldiers, with three others just in front of me. I don’t know why, but I have been allocated to this squad, in which I am to then regroup with my original squad. I don’t see why I don’t just stay with them, but I am not one to disobey orders. So now I head off, into the field of battle once more, rifle in one hand and the weight of looming failure in the other. I have been told that failure to accomplish this mission could mean failure for the entire of the UNDF.

Chapter 1: Landing
60 SECONDS! The same shout I would hear every time we had to make a forced drop.
50 SECONDS! At this point I would begin to say my prayers.
40 SECONDS! I check my equipment and tried to stay standing up as the dropship rocked from side to side.
30 SECONDS! I look to my left. The soldier standing there looks pale and shakes slightly. I remember the time I had to make my first forced drop.
20 SECONDS! Artillery explosions going off. The sound of people getting massacred. It was like being with in the depths of hell it’s self.
10 SECONDS! I prepare for the abrupt landing and steady myself. I look straight ahead and wait for the hatch to open and have to make my mad dash for the nearest cover before the enemy blast back.
GO! GO! GO! The hatch opens and almost immediately the man in front of me is gunned down. I strafe to my left as soon as my feet hit the ground and find myself with no cover to hide behind. I drop down and move into a crawl, seeking anything that can be used as a shield against the barrage of fire. But as I search, all my eyes see is smoke. I am blinded. Crawling fast I hardly realise that the ground in front of me is gone and my body quickly slide down the slope, hitting the bottom and cursing my bad luck. Trying to sit up right against the cliff side, bullets only just narrowly miss my head and send dust ricocheting off the cliff. I instantly scan ahead and notice things can now be seen more clearly.
Ahead, through the brush, is my target. The IFE’s main Genetic Research Facility. Suddenly more bullets buzz past my head, this time more closely, and I fire blindly into the distance until I hear the grunts of someone falling down to the ground. Smiling, I begin to crawl once more towards the facility. Doing so, my orders are replayed through my head as clearly as they’d been spoken to my right now.
“John, you must infiltrate the facility in any way possible. But before you do you must meet up with Newton and his team.”
I stop in my tracks. How could I have forgotten? Newton would be somewhere to the west of the facility. Since my current location was North, North West, my angel was adjusted by looking at my compass, and I headed off again in my new direction, hoping to find the others still alive. Not that there were any doubts about that. The team I’d been with was always one of the best, though we did get ourselves into a spot of trouble every now and then.
Five months ago, our squad had been deployed along with two others on a recon mission near Alaska. Our mission was simply to scout out a perimeter for an enemy missile silo for a possible attack later. However, during this, our squad discovered a convoy of warheads heading out away from the silo, along with plenty of supplies. It wasn’t part of our mission, but since the weather had picked up there was no help from command. With a quick decision made, our squad along with the other two attacked and took control of the convoy.
Of course, our problems began when we tried to get it back to HQ as the IFE sent a wave of soldiers out to reclaim what was stolen. Three were injured, and two died. Our squads were placed under suspension (which generally means trench duty near frontlines), and we missed out on the fireworks going on during the attack. Then again, it wasn’t all bad missing out on a battle, especially one like this.
My passage chosen seemed to not be a very good one at all. About every few metres an enemy troop would appear or there’s be an explosion go off only mere metres away from me. But eventually I spied a group sheltering behind a small rock formation. Moving closer, I finally was able to make out the faces of my squad. One of them was Jimmy, my old room buddy in collage. The man next to him was George, but we called him Led man since he had been shot so many times in previous battles that he was filled with the stuff. Just behind him, getting aid from a medic was Junior, a rather new member of the team who’d’ only been admitted two months ago. The medic helping him was Duncan, a reasonable chap who delighted in telling jokes, and, finally, the guy shouting orders was Newton. We call him that on account he is practically as smart as Isaac Newton himself.
I started my run over to them keeping as low as possible at the same time until my eyes caught the reason why they were taking shelter. Three soldiers had them pinned down. One of them had a heavy machinegun and was shooting wildly trying to hit them while laughing at the fun of blasting senselessly while they couldn’t do anything to stop him. Instantly my hand grabbed one of my grenades and hurled it. It hit the soldier in the head, and before he could figure out what just happened, him and the other two were blown to high heaven. Now it was my turn to laugh as I sprinted towards the others.
“ Hey! How ya’ all going.”
“John, what took you so long? We’ve been sitting here for ages trying to protect ourselves from those bloody lunatics.” Prompted Jimmy.
“I had a little trouble finding the place, and besides, shouldn’t you be a little more grateful that I saved your arses don’t you think, Jimmy?
“ Now he has a point there. He did just save us from being the targets of a trigger happy maniac.” Remarked George.
“That is true George, but I think it would have been a bit more helpful if he got here sooner. That way Junior here wouldn’t have almost lost his right arm.” Said Duncan, rather displeased.
“Hey it’s not really all that bad. It’s just a flesh wound. Really, I’m fine”
“Hey, whatever you say buddy, I’m just looking out for you being the youngest and all.”
“ You don’t have to, I can look after my self.”
Jimmy didn’t really like being treated like he was a kid. He knew he’d been in battles before, but still he was the one with the least combat experience, and he was only 18 years old. Rather young to be in the army, but in a war like this the military took in anyone who signed up.
“I know you can but that doesn’t mean I shouldn’t look out for you.”
“ Well stop, you’re not my mother!” Yelled Jimmy.
“Hey. Can you two stop feuding and start focusing on the battle. Ok. Now lets get a battle update. We are practically alone and we have to make our way to the facility and infiltrate it. Once we are in we reach the generator room and plant the explosives. We then ex-filtrate the facility and make our way to the extraction point. Are we clear on those objectives.” Asked Newton, a stern look on his face.
We all replied in unison, “ Sir yes sir.”
“Good, now lets move out.”
The passage we took was long. At least this time there fewer soldiers to get in our way as they were mostly at the outside perimeters trying with all their effort to hold off our invasion force. After Ten minutes we reached the wall of the facility only to discover it would be too dangerous to go through the front doors. So, using the C4 in my pack, I blew a hole in the sidewall and we went in. According to the map info that we obtained from our spies, the generator room should be somewhere on this floor. I instinctively attached my silencer to my handgun, and the others replicated my actions. We silently made our approach through the different hallways, opening doors and occasionally hiding behind things to avoid gaining the attention of watchful guards, or otherwise silently dealing with hem and shifting the body where other passers wouldn’t see it. Stealth would play a key role in this mission. If the enemy knew we were in the base then there’d be hell to pay!
Eventually we found the door leading to the generator room. We sneaked inside but were spotted. An armed guard began shooting as a couple of engineers began to run away from the firefight. Led man took a bullet just in his abdomen but hardly even flinched as he shot the guard directly in the head. Newton made the signal and Jimmy and me began placing C4 as the others herded the scared engineers out of the room. Just before we were finished there was a loud rumble and the lights flickered. I tripped over and cursed the chaos outside making me fall over. Then, as I began to get up and my eyes looked into the vent in front of me, my body gained sudden and I fell back cursing again, this time in shock.
“Are you alright, John?” Asked Jimmy, concerned.
I nodded and cleared my head. Did I just see what I thought I saw? Or were my eyes playing the fool on my senses? I laughed slightly and turned around.
“Are you sure your alright. You look pale.”
Shaking my head, I replied, “It must be all this smoke and hard work. But I am feeling fine.”
At that moment the others burst through. Newton shouted immediately.
“We have to get out of here now! I just got a radio in from command. What ever they sent us in to destroy has gotten lose, whatever he means by that I don’t know, but there is a dropship waiting at the extraction point. He says don’t worry about the explosives; they are going to missile strike the place.”
Missile strikes were one of the worst fears for a soldier. When they occurred, mass devastation happened all over, and generally they weren’t 100 percent accurate, which meant friendly kills would occur if they weren’t at a safe distance!
We ran, firing blindly every now and then at anything that emerged in front of us. We found the hole we made and looked at our compasses and sprinted away towards the extraction zone.
Then Jimmy was shot and he fell down to the ground. Duncan fired at the oppressor as we picked Jimmy up. He cursed and cursed as blood spilt forth from a wound in gut. Then Led man got shot in the leg and he almost fell, so I grabbed him and we stumbled away. Duncan then got shot. The bullet skimmed the side of his neck and he fell almost instantly, a pale look of shock on his face. Jimmy went down with him, swearing as Junior was left trying to support his weight. I snatched a bandage from the medical bag lying next to Duncan and wrapped it around his neck just tight enough to stop the bleeding and yelled at Junior to continue taking Jimmy to the Dropship.
I cursed and yelled until I saw the dropships. It looked like they would take off any moment. Around them were soldiers, wounded and all. Junior took a hit straight through the head, a small hole from, front opening wide to the rear. He dropped to the ground with Jimmy falling over as he did. Newton grabbed him and Led man felt for Duncan’s pulse only to find there was none. Led man hoisted Duncan onto his shoulder, walked up to Junior, and even lifted him up in a tight grip as he began stumbling toward the dropships. Newton and me picked up Jimmy, his face now pale and grim.
Bullets glided at us again, so Newton went ahead as I shot away at rapid pace with my rifle, gunning down two of them before turning around and running off, watching as Led man made his way across, almost already at the dropships. But it was too late. The dropships began too take off leaving about a dozen troops still standing there. I stood there for a moment and then searched the sky for what was coming. Finally me eyes caught a glimpse of them. They were about 30 seconds away from hitting. I looked around and saw every soldier, enemy and allied, looking up at their inevitable death. I dropped my rifle to the ground and opened up my arms to embrace my demise, almost managing a grim smile. However, by an odd twist of fate, seconds before they hit the ground beneath me opened up and swallowed me whole. The missiles hit as my body fell down a shaft sliding down and down in different directions.
Thud! And all was black.

Chapter 2: The Secret
I awoke suddenly from my unconsciousness and peered around. I appeared to be in a hallway illuminated by only one flickering light. I guess that means that the generators didn’t get taken out in the blast or else there were more that still remained deeper.
Towards my left the hallway had caved in, and to my right stood a double door. Above there was a sign saying, CAFETERIA C. I attempted to stand up but was unsuccessful. On top of my left leg was some rubble. I removed it to reveal the wound. It was only a small one, really only a sprain with some blood trickling from it. With some force, my body went into a seated position and I began to feel around.
On the ground was a bandage. At least what was left of what I used on Duncan. Poor Duncan, and all the others who ended up being left behind to get blown away by a missile strike. I grabbed up the bandage and wrapped what was needed around my leg and stuffed the left overs in my pocket. I checked what else I had.
My handgun was still with me. My compass and watch were broken so I dumped those. There was one grenade attached to my chest pocket. Thank god that the pin hadn’t come off. Then again, maybe that wouldn’t have been so bad considering my current status. In my left pants pocket was a lighter, there was a pack of bandaids in my front pocket and a canteen half full of water in my right pants pocket. I grabbed that and took a swig out of it, leaving plenty for later, then put it back and proceeded into the cafeteria with a bit of extra urging onward with my sore muscles.
When I opened the doors I was horrified to find that the cafeteria was littered with one of the most horrific sights my eyes had beholden since enlisting. Even more so than the bloodiest battle I’d taken part in.
I walked through the cafeteria looking at some of the bodies that were sprawled across the room. Some of them looked like they had died from debris crushing them but most of them had torn limbs and even marks all over the bodies. It was sickening and the stench was putrid. My previous meal almost came up just from the scene of it all. One of the corpses I came across had a large chunk taken out of him. It almost looked like he was torn apart by some sort of creature. Another next to it seemed to be the same, except its chest was ripped open to reveal a gory sight within.
I spied a door ahead and moved over to it. Once I opened it I moved through and shut the door quickly then buckled over to vomit on the floor in front of me. There was no way I’d want to see that vile mess in the cafeteria ever again.
Finally I began to move down the hallway. It was actually well illuminated compared to the last place, and actually clean considering what I had just saw. Then, as I walked past a door, there were gunshots follow by a thump against the door I was standing next to. The door shook and I wondered weather or not to open it and check behind. Then there were screams and a cry for help. My hand reached for the handle and opened the door only to be greeted by a body flying strait past me and hitting the wall with so much force it made cracks. I looked in the door and then flung back as an animal of some sort jumped past and hit the wall. It tumbled, regained its posture, and then looked at me, snarling through yellow sharp teeth and oozing saliva. Its body was cut and its flesh was hanging halfway off the muscle and at some parts I could even see bone. The overall shape resembled a Doberman, yet from the chunky hind legs and slightly hand like front paws it seemed more like a freak of nature.
It went to jump at me but I was too quick for it and pulled out my gun and put a bullet directly through it’s head. It fell to the floor and ceased all movement. I looked into the room from which it came and saw a man in a laboratory uniform lying against a wall moaning and gripping hard his abdomen. I rushed over to him to give aid but he held out his hand to stop me from coming closer and spoke.
“Don’t come closer if you value your life.”
There was a large wound in his side. I tried to get closer to help but he stopped me.
“I told you. Don’t come closer.” His attitude became slightly sarcastic, “unless you wish to be infected just like I am.”
“Infected? What on earth do you mean? Do you need a vaccine?”
“No, it’s too late. The infection shall spread and mutate my body until I look just like the creature you saw. It’s too late to save me now.”
He coughed a bit and rubbed some blood from his mouth
“Ok, if you don’t want help. Perhaps you can help me. I want to know what the hell that thing was, and I want to know how to get out of here.”
He seemed a little angered at my attitude, but simply half-smiled and answered anyway. “Fine. That thing that attacked you was a mutated creature. It was once a dog in case you can’t tell from what still looks natural. It was made using ultraviolet radiation and a bio-chemical we like to call, ‘Chemical M’. These two things combined were supposed to make the ultimate soldier. But not all react kindly to such exposer. It turned them into rabid beasts that will stop at nothing to hunt their pray.” He coughed more and shifted to sit more straight. “But there is something you should also now. Some of these creatures like the one you just encountered are highly contagious. Avoid touching them or you’ll risk infection like me. On that bench are three vials. They will act as an antidote. Use them every 4 hours or if you are bitten.”
“Hang on. Why every 4 hours.”
“Because of the radiation in the air. The air you breathe is infected. Take one of those vials every 4 hours and you should be fine.”
“Great, so now I have to take a vial every four hours to stay healthy, and if I get bitten I’ll have too drink another to stay alive again. And if I do, then I’ll decrease my time to get out of here. Besides. How am I going to know when to take one? Am I just going to find the next creature I come across and ask it what the time is?” I said in a mocking tone.
“No.” He said crossly. “Take my watch. I don’t need it any more.”
“Thanks. Now how about telling me the way out.” I asked while fixing the watch around my right wrist.
“That’s your problem. There is no way out. A lot of the place has caved in from your commander’s pathetic attempts to obliterate every inch of this place and whatever’ inside. Also keeping in mind that there are plenty of creatures still about.”
“Great. Well this is truly my day. I might as well kill myself now.”
“No don’t! You look promising.” Those last words he said made a weird feeling go up my spine. I instantly knew it wouldn’t be good. “On the bench next to the vials is a letter. It has information on most the things that have been going on down here as well as saying that every other facility that is working on the experiment must terminate all actions involved with it now.”
“Well. Thanks a lot for making this my happiest day ever. You know. I always wanted to be errand boy.”
“Enough with the sarcasm and get moving. There isn’t much time. Others will come soon to hunt for food. Quickly. Shoot me now. I do not wish to become one of them. Please kill me!”
At first I hesitated, but it seemed the right action to take. “Well, since you said please.”
“LOOK OUT!”
I swerved around and narrowly dodged an attack from the same creature I just shot before. It landed on the scientist and tore him open in one mighty swipe. I pointed my gun and shot once more. BANG! I got it in the side, the bullet streaming through the loose flesh on the side. BANG! I got it in the leg causing the creature to stumble. BANG! This shot got it right in the forehead as it let out a scream of pain that echoed through the hallway outside. I stood up and reloaded my gun, looking around the room until I spied the bench the scientist talked about and picked up the Vials and letter. Normally I’d have left a letter unopened, but it was relating to whatever was going on here, so protocol seemed to call for me to open it up and read. The letter and read.

Dear Mr Varicose

In reply to your last letter, I’m afraid it is happening here as well. It does not look good. The creatures are acting wildly and are out of control. Plus, as I write this letter, the radar has picked up a large amount of dropships approaching this very place. So I shall be brief. We are going to terminate all workings on the experiment immediately. I hope that this letter reaches you A.S.A.P. before it is too late.

Yours sincerely
Boris Vancouver

This explained it all. This is why the commander wanted this place destroyed. This is why he had to evacuate all the troops he could and then missile striked the place. I placed the letter back in the envelope and exited the room and, upon turning left, the sounds of loud wails and growls coming from the direction of the cafeteria pitched themselves in my ear and sent a chill down my spine. The wails grew closer. Whatever made it was coming and by the sound of it there was a lot of them. They must have heard their friend get killed and come to investigate. I made a sprint down the hall, but the sounds kept growing louder and louder no matter how fast I ran. I scanned ahead at a T-intersection and read the sign on the wall.
Left: Laboratory E-G
Lifts/stairs
Right: Medical lab A5
Autopsy
I quickly made my decision. Left would be much more safer than entering an autopsy room, especially when your running away from strange creatures!
Dashing around the corner I spied a dead soldier sprawled in a puddle of his own blood. Shifting over to the corpse I snatched up an assault rifle, a torch and a few extra rounds then made my way to the elevators. Thinking smart my first attempt was to open the door to the stairs and make my way upwards from there, but the door was locked so my next, and what seemed only option, was to try the lifts.
I rapidly pushed the button until shadows began to emerge from around the corner. They’d caught up on me. I popped the pin on the grenade and tossed it at the wall, making it rebound off the wall and hopefully into the creatures. The grenade went off with a loud wham but not before two creatures came streaming around the corner, their faces distorted with anger, running on all fours just like the first, just this time they seemed less fragile and oozy.
One slid over into the wall while the other used its downed friend as a leap pad to lunge at me. I fire at the creature imbedding all the ammo I can in it before it gets too close and forces me to leap out of the way. Then, finally, the lift opened and both creatures lunge at me. I throw myself into the lift and press any button at random hoping that the door will close in time. One creature attempts to jump in with me so I open fire at it until it hits the floor dead. The other prepares to jump at me, it’s half human half dog like face forming into a full fledged fury, it’s own mouth foaming with vengeance for it’s fallen. I fire again but with no success. The clip is fully empty. The creature sneers at me as I frantically try to reload my gun, hot sweat dripping down me as I try to beat death top the clock. With a slight pull back, and a yell of fury, it lunges once more and smacks right into the elevator doors. I let out a sigh of relief.
I look at which button was pressed on the elevator and let out a moan as I see I’ve pressed the wrong one. The elevator is taking me down instead of up. When it reaches its destination I push another button and wait for the door to close, but nothing happens. I push it again. Nothing happens. I bang my fist on the button. Again nothing happens. I kick the button. The power to the elevator shuts off. I curse my brains out as I punch at all the buttons, hoping that the elevator will start up again. Then it makes a noise, like it was trying to power up again. I let out a sigh of relief and stand at the back of the elevator. Waiting for it to do something. The elevator jolts down and shakes as it lets out weird metallic noises, causing me to begin to hesitate. The elevator jots down again and I run out of the elevator and turn around just in time to see it’s cables break and it plummet the rest of the way down to the bottom floor.
“Oh shit. Now what am I going to do. I’m god knows how many meters under the ground I am. There are mutants trying to kill me. And now I have virtually no way of getting up to ground level ever again.”
The lights in the new hallway I stand in are flickering madly. I turn on the torch taken the dead soldier and shine it around. There is a door to my left not far down the hallway. The sign above it says, Genetic testing lab. Authorized personal only! Down the hallway to my right is another T-intersection. I walk down towards the intersection and glance left and right down the two hallways. To my left is an Armoury. To my right is lots of blood and bodies and a door with a sign saying, Power generators A9. I took the right path, heading towards the armoury.
The door was large with a lock that appeared to need a swipe card to open it. I turn around and stare at the bloodied hallway. As much as I don’t want to, maybe there is someone who has a key-card that can open the door to the armoury. I slowly make my way across to the door. Stepping over one mutilated corpse. I grip the handle and take a deep breath. The door opens silently to reveal a very dark room.
After fumbling around near the doorway, hoping for a switch, I find none and shine my torch throughout the room while slowly making my way in and leaning over what appeared to be a balcony to investigate what was below. I shine my torch down into the room and then wish I hadn’t. At the bottom of the room are egg sacks. Lots of them. Enough to make one big omelette! Though I doubt these were edible.
I scanned the room some more until I was sure that there wouldn’t be any big mutant mothers lunging out from behind something then tiptoed down the stairs and began to check the room. The floor squelched under my feet and the revolting aroma of spoilt meat and sour milk filled my nose. But I didn’t stop checking the room until I had searched every inch. When I was done searching, all I’d found were a few batteries, a clip that fitted smugly into my pistol and an I.D. card from some scientist. I carefully made my way out of the room, hoping that hadn’t disturbed any eggs. I’d seen a lot of movies like this before and was not about to have anything latch onto my face and attempt to suck my brains out.
Suddenly, just as I reached the stairs, the door slowly opened. I switched off my torch and peered at the doorway. The silhouette of and large creature moved onto the balcony. It then dragged something into the room with it. It picked up the object and threw it into the middle of the egg sacks. It then looked around the room. I stood still hoping it couldn’t see me. I held my breath as it looked straight direction. It stared at me through deep, dark eyes as I stared back into its own with a look of terror. It let out a snort and then screeched. I clapped my hands over my ears as the high pitched sound echoed throughout the room. The scream was unbearable. I clenched my teeth and fought back a wail of pain as my ears began throbbing. Finally the creature stopped screaming and I almost lost balance and dropped to the floor. Then there was a strange sound. I looked around the room and spied one of the egg sacks opening. I thought hard as I watched a small creature crawl out of the egg and then go over to a corpse. The only thing I could think of at the moment was to run towards the door and get past the creature. Even if it means guns are blazing.
I made my choice and dashed up the stairs. The creature glanced at me then proceeded to block my path. I grabbed my gun and blasted at it as I ducked and rolled under it. The creature wailed and turned looking frustrated that I had pulled off such a move right in front of it. I grabbed out the assault rifle and started to shoot at it while stepping backwards as fast as possible towards the armoury door so in an attempt to open it with the I.D. card. The creature moved closer to me. It was slow but strong. I ran out of ammo in my gun, and then began shooting at it with the pistol. It stood up to every bullet, barley flinching as each one hit. Eventually it got close enough to swipe at me. My shirt was torn and I grasped my gut as the cut leaked blood.
The pistol ran out of ammo so I threw it at the creature. It hit it right between its hollow eyes. The creature wailed. That pistol must have hit a weak spot. And just as I had guessed, an almost black blood trickled out from its forehead. The wound was small but I wouldn’t give up. I lunged at the creature, surprising it with my ferocity, and began bashing it in the head with the metallic end of my torch. The creature was getting angry now and began to flail its arms at me, hoping that I would fall off. But I held my grasp tight with my legs around its thick neck. I was pissing it off a lot. So much it tried to bash me against the wall. It then made a blind dash towards the armoury door. I gave it one last bash before pulling up and kicking myself off the creature. It hit the door with a heavy amount of force, bringing itself and the door down to the ground.
The creature tried to get up but appeared too weak. I reloaded my pistol and walked over to it. The creature was in pain. And had lost its will to fight me more. I felt pity for the creature, but I couldn’t let it live. It was already breeding. I knew what had to be done. I placed my gun to the open wound in its head and stared into its eyes. The creature moaned and tried to stand up. I looked away then shot. The creature was silenced.
I stood up and turned around to search the armoury. The room had small ammo. I was displeased. Obviously with all this commotion going on, soldiers must have emptied the armoury to protect themselves. I walked around looking at the empty slots where guns had been. All that was left was a grenade, a few pistol rounds and a small revolver. A riot baton, three boxes of shotgun rounds, and a medi-kit. I grabbed the riot baton, and the revolver and decided to take a couple of shotgun rounds in case I found one. I then searched the medi-kit. There were some bandages, a needle, three boxes of painkillers, a bottle of antiseptic and medicine of some sort. I looked at my wound. It wasn’t bleeding any more. It was just a bit brownish. Then I remembered what the scientist had said.
“Some of these creatures like the one you just encountered are highly contagious. Avoid touching them or you’ll risk infection like me…”
I pulled out one of the vials and stared at the purplish liquid floating around in it.
“Well. I guess that getting a nice big scratch from one of those creatures is just as good as being bitten,” I remarked. “So down the hatch with you.”
I drank the vial. The taste was tangy but still satisfying.
“Finally. A medicine that doesn’t taste like an old ladies foot!”
I stared at the wound. The colour of it had changed slightly, but it was too early to know if the drink had worked or not so I bandaged it up then swang the bag full of medical supplies over my back. Then I herd a quiet wailing. The creatures from that had just hatched were still in the room. Rather than have them come out to find their mother dead I picked up the remaining grenade and tossed it into the room. I moved away and crouched slightly. The grenade went off with a large thump, followed by more. I realised the mistake I’d just made with throwing a live grenade into a room full if generators and began to run.
The room erupted with a frightful explosion forcing me to hit the ground cursing myself for making such a stupid mistake. I pulled myself up and then peered over at the door that I chose not to go through. I didn’t like the look of it but with nowhere else to go. It was my only choice. I walked over to the door and pushed. It didn’t open. It was another door requiring a key card to open it. I took out the I.D. card from the pocket and put it through the slot. The little light on it went from red to green and I smiled. The card was an asset worth searching a room full of mutant creatures for.
I walked into the large room. In the centre of the room were three large tubes. Two of which were broken. The middle one, however, had a figure in side. I walked up to it. The glass was fogged so I brushed my hand across the glass to clear it. I stepped back from shock at the shape of a man inside. The man looked to have been mutated in some ways and had many tubes coming from it. I didn’t like the look of it. I found it very disturbing. Looking around the room for more information I found a computer that was turned on. I wiped some of the blood off that was covering the screen and began searching through files. I looked for about half an hour before finding one that looked interesting. I opened the file and read.

Log date: June 14th 2305
Experiment: 302
Code name: The experiment.
It is the fourth week since we began using our new technique to make super soldiers. It uses ultra violet radiation on cells that have been left in a new formula we call, Chemical- Methridite. A rare chemical that we discovered only four and a half weeks ago. Combined with ultra violet radiation, the cell sample has begun to grow rapidly. We are anticipating what will happen later on.

Log date: June 17th 2305
It has been three days since the rapid growth of the cells began. The tissue cells are dividing into more and more cells by the second. We are all excited. So much that we have begun trying this experiment on even more cells of different things.

Log date: June 29th 2305
We are feeling annoyed now. Out of the 20 test subjects, only three are actually showing promise.

Log date: July 6th 2305
It’s working. The three cells that have showed promise have already become what looks like some sort of human. We are keeping these three in a special tube in which to grow. It’s like having you own child and watching it grow up.

Log date: July 20th 2305
After research, we have found out why they are acting how they are. It appears that these ‘mutants’ are adapting and changing according to their environment. In this case, they are beginning to look human because of the amount of human interaction that they are getting. This truly is a great outcome because now we can train these mutants to behave like a human by interacting with them differently. They will learn from us.

Log date: July 28th 2305
We have good news again. We have shown these creatures how to interact. Of course they haven’t left the new stasis cells we’ve put them in. We have even begun teaching them to fight, as their objective is to become a super soldier. If all goes well we should be able to release them and begin teaching them in a non-enclosed environment by next week.

Log date: August 4th 2305
I’m afraid I have bad news. While we began to bring them out of the cells, they began to behave ridiculously. We might be in danger. These mutants are violent and are not safe for the outside world. We are going to have to abandon the experiment. Also I must send a letter to the Bio-lab in Siberia to tell them to cancel the experiment over there as well. These creatures are just too unstable.

At the end of the files was a small video feed. I accessed it in hope to find out just what was going on to more detail. When it started up, the face of the same scientist that’d given me the letter and the antidotes began to speak into he camera.
“Log date: August 6th 2305 Professor Trevor Yuan recording here.” There was a grim look on the professors face. His eyes were filled with fear and large bags left their signs of little sleep beneath them.
“I’m afraid we are in trouble. While we attempted to destroy the experiment nothing seems to work. On top of that, our radars have picked up a lot of enemy aircraft heading this way. Could it be that they know of the experiment? I’ve given a letter to my good friend Bernard. He’ll deliver the letter. Meanwhile we must destroy the experiment before it gets out of hand.” He shifted out of the way and pointed towards the three stasis cells, but whatever was inside couldn’t be made out because of a crowd standing around. Soe of them armed guards.”
“I’m recording this right now as we administer the only chemical we have that is fully tested to be able to kill off the main chemical in the mutants. Chemical-M. We are injecting it into the feeding tube now cells now. It looks to be working. I think we’ve done it!” He looked back at the camera, his face pleased, but then there were some muffled screams and banging noises.
“We have encountered a problem. The mutants are not taking kindly. Two of the cells are cracking. They’ve broken lose. We are losing power. Oh no, the alarm. We are suppressing the creatures now. I must run with my colleagues. If anyone sees this then get out of here now. We can’t defeat two super humans at once. I just hope they don’t get to the surface.”
The camera continued to record as the professor gathered up some equipment then snatched up a letter. He looked over at the commotion. Then ran, leaving the camera to record. Suddenly, one of the cells broke, two people were sent flying, and armed guards started firing. Then the lights went dark again, the camera shook, and the recording was suddenly ended.
“So that’s what was happening down here. And what’s in the stasis cell over there is one of the experiments that the professor was talking about. Don’t see how that one didn’t get out, but I better leave just in case. If what that message says in there is true. Then there are already another two of these ‘super humans’ running around the place. Maybe even on the same floor. I must get out.”

Chapter 3: Hunted
I turned from the computer and looked around. There was another door to the rear of the lab. I dashed over and unlocked it using the I.D. card. I went through not looking back until I herd glass shatter. I looked back through the door window. Do I dare open up and find out what just happened? I hear a voice. What ever is in there, it seemed to be hurt. There were moans and groans. I looked at the door. The last time I heard moans and wining coming from behind a door, I was almost killed by a mutant dog! Then there was a silhouette of a person. They banged on the window. I grinned and my heart filled with hope. Another person. A survivor. I ran over to the door without thinking twice and opened it. There was no one inside. Was I seeing things? Then I looked at the once remaining stasis cell. It was broken. I stepped back and bumped into something. I turned around and was startled by a large bulky, naked man standing in front of me.
“Bloody hell! Put some cloths on could ya?”
The man moved towards me. I stepped back. Then I looked at him. His arms were browninsh in a disgusting way and his face looked like it had things crawling under it. The man lunged at me. I dodged only to get knocked over by a fist. I got back up and spat on the ground.
“That’s it nudist man. You are going down.”
I launched a punch but he simply moved slightly to the left then slammed me in the gut. I was winded. He moved closer to me and then raised his left fist in the air, ready for another attack. I dodge his fist and launched my own fist into his gut. There was pain as my hand throbbed. The man’s gut was like steel. He grabbed my arm and threw me into the wall. I slumped down onto the ground and moaned.
“That’s it! Now you are going to have to pay big time.”
I grabbed the revolver and pistol and blasted. The man took every blow, barely flinching as each bullet hit. My guns ran out of ammo and the man let off a demented smile then began to walk towards me. I got straight up and ran. Fighting was not going to work. I narrowly missed a punch and ran through the door.
He followed me and for every step I made he would make two. I could not outrun him. Though he was large and bulky he was lightning fast and before I knew it he was right behind me once more and began sending out punches. I hit the ground as he struck me in the back. I rolled over and he missed stomping me into the ground so I took my chance and kicked him right behind the knee. I hurt my foot but the man went down on one knee. I got right up and began to sprint even faster than before, but as I rounded the next corner my heart sank.
In the hallway were mutants. They looked at me and sneered. I took some steps back and then spied a grate in the roof that I might be able to get through. But how. The mutants began to slowly approach and the screams of the angry man echoed down the hallway. I quickly upholstered my pistol and hastily began to reload it. Then a mutant lunged and I had to duck. I kept reloading until the same mutant flung strait past me and made me drop the clip. The man had caught up and didn’t look very pleased. This is the end I thought. Either I would be pummelled by the angry man, or torn to shreds by mutants. I stared into the eyes of my foes and wiped a hand across my forehead to remove sweat. Then a mutant lunged again. I jumped up. Grabbed the grating and swung myself up, just in time to avoid the mutant. The man grabbed the mutant and began punching it madly. The other mutants watched what was happening then instinctively moved in on the attack with the man.
When the last one had run underneath me to engage in furious combat, the grating above me collapsed. I landed awkwardly and cursed. Then I tried to stand but I had done damage to my left ankle. I felt about my ankle and squeezed. It didn’t seem broken but it was sprained badly. I grabbed out the bandage from the medical bag and hastily wrapped it around tightly. Then I used the wall to help my self up and looked at the battle. Out of the odd ten that were fighting, four remained capable of defence. I smiled and then hoisted myself up through the roof and into vent. It was large enough for me to almost stand right up. It must have been a maintenance shaft or something.
I crawled along, ignoring the throbbing in my ankle until I heard a loud banging. I stopped and looked behind me. Something was coming this way. I crawled faster, but the noise got closer. Then there was a loud moan. I stood up as much as I could and sort of half ran, half crawled my way through the shaft. I seemed to be escaping until the shaft began to wobble then collapse in front of me. I peered down the shaft and moaned as I watched as the shaft began to bend over so my only exit was down a deep cavern. I moved back then bumped into something. I turned and screamed as the large man I fought before pushed me out of the shaft. I slid down and flew out the opening. I attempted to land on a platform but missed. Instead I grabbed a pipe, which I ended up swinging around, then slipped off landing on a larger pipe and then slipped off that onto a narrow platform leading from on end of the large cavern to the other.
I pulled myself back onto my feet and gripped hard on the railing. I shook my head then peered around. Ahead of me was a large door. Behind me I couldn’t anything because of the thick reddish haze that filled the area. I listened. Over the moans of the man that wouldn’t stop following me was the sound of engines and steam. I didn’t quite know where I was so any decision for a path would have to be a good one. I went into the red haze, still gripping the railing and listening to the noises. Then there was a loud thump and the sound of bending metal. I turned and sore the silhouette of the man. I began to move as fast as possible. I could still hear the sound a bending and breaking metal. This platform was not strong enough to hold both of us.
Then I ran. The man grew ever closer and escape seemed impossible. But it didn’t stop me. I had outrun him before and I would do so again. Then my feet hit rock. And the haze had cleared more to reveal some large digging machines and engines. Then I got an idea. I ran towards a digger and jumped inside, then used everything in my knowledge to move the digger in the desired direction. The plan was simple. Ram the big arsed bastard so hard that he either gets crushed or pushed off the edge of the cavern. I pushed lever after lever and eventually saw the man approach. I pushed another lever and managed to turn the digger to face him. Then pushed another and went backwards into the side of the cavern. The man began to run, so I pushed another lever and made the lights turn on. The man stopped moving and shielded his eyes. It was pay back time. I shifted the only lever I had left and successfully made the digger move forward. For my own amusement, I tooted the horn just before hitting the man.
He hit the very front of my powerful new toy and barley managed to put his arms out to stop me from running him over. He began to slide backwards towards the edge. I grinned and stared at him. Then I stuck the lever in place so it would follow him right down to the bottom then loaded my pistol and hopped out. I pointed it at him and fired at him. The man was hit right in the head causing him stumbled. The digger went faster with out his exerting force pushing it back and shoved him right over the edge.
I herd the loud crash of the digger as it hit the bottom of the cavern. There was no noise from the man so I assumed that he was dead. I assumed wrong. I holstered my gun and as I turned to continue along my way, the sound of heavy breathing made me stop in my tracks. I turned to find that the man was just pulling himself up onto the edge.
“Why wont you just stay down you overgrown piece of shit! You should be dead by now!”
I angrily unholstered my gun and the riot baton. I then moved towards the man, firing blankly until I reached him. Then I bashed him in the head with the baton, but it had no real effect accept making him madder.
He flung an arm at me and missed. Then I launched my fist into his gut and made him stumble backwards. I never knew that I could hit that hard. The man righted himself then launched out an onslaught of attacks. Each punch missed me by mere inches. I never knew I could move that fast. Then the man kicked me right in the side and I went down. I rolled back up just before he could stomp me, and I punched him in the face, hard. He toppled over and grinned.
“What are you smiling at fat ass? You want some more, huh, do ya’?”
The man’s smile turned into a sneer and I grew a new knowledge about when to be a smart arse. Now wasn’t the time. The man threw two punches and I flew into the side of the cavern. Cursing, I got up and approached the man. He cracked his neck twice then lifted his fists in a boxing fashion. He punched first. I ducked then laid my own into his gut. Then I grabbed him on the shoulders and pushed him down to begin kneeing him several times in the chest and head. Then I kicked him right in the crowns.
Of course realising at this point that since he was brought up due to genetic research, that any move that would normally stun a man would not work here.
“Curious here. What’s it like not being brought up to at least have a pair of cojonies.”
I smiled and laughed at my joke then ducked another blow from the man before shoving him right towards the edge and then punching him rapidly in the gut until he was right against the edge. I pulled out my gun and shot him once for each eye then kicked him over the edge. The man went down screaming until he hit the bottom and was silenced. I smiled some more and let out a sigh of satisfaction because of my victory. No longer would I have to worry about that freak show anymore.
I began walking away and looked at my watch. It was almost one hour since I was back inside that lab where the man and the other super humans were created. An almost over an hour since I took the vile. I lifted my shirt, unwound the bandage and looked at the wound. It was almost fully healed but looked like it was changing slightly purplish. Was the vaccine that I drank even doing anything? I didn’t really know but it would be much better if I could find myself a way out of here and see a doctor. It seemed that I was getting deeper underground rather than going up. I sighed once more and continued.

Chapter 4: Chance of a meeting
I walked along through the large cavern, occasionally stopping to look around. Nothing appeared of any use. Eventually I found a large iron crate. I managed to pry it open using a piece of metal lying on the ground. There wasn’t much that was useful in it. I picked up a couple of batteries and stuffed then in my front pocket with my lighter. I then took another swig from my canteen. There wasn’t much left in it and I was starting to get thirsty. And hungry. I closed the crate and continued.
After a while I came across a small door that had been left ajar. I slowly opened it wider and looked about. I turned on my torch and shined it in. There was a staircase leading up. I opened the door right up and noticed a sign next to the doorway that said, FIRE EXIT. This seemed like my lucky break. If this was a fire exit then it must lead way up. Maybe all the way up to the top where I could finally get out and escape.
I proceeded up the staircase. It wasn’t very well illuminated and my torch wasn’t that powerful. I had to be careful not to trip on the stairs and roll down to the bottom. I cautiously sped up. I had already gone up about thirty stairs. I must be almost halfway there. I reached the around fiftieth stair and I herd a noise. Something was coming this way and I bet it wasn’t going to be friendly. I was right.
About ten stairs up from me was a mutant. A very strange mutant to be exact. It was hanging from the roof and looked like it had no arms or head. From memory of detail from many of the movies I used to watch. I’d refer to this thing as an ‘Abomination’, or maybe a demon. It withered from where it hung then dropped onto the stairs then lifted itself up onto its legs. Then a head lifted from behind and snapped into place in a most gruesome manner followed by its arms. I grabbed my guns and fired without giving it a second thought. The creature leaped up and latched onto the roof then began scurrying towards me. I fired until both my guns went click and had to be reloaded. The creature lunged but I dodged and managed to get a clip into the handgun and began firing again. The creature took a few hits into its back and leaped up onto the roof again and continued on the attack. I threw my handgun at it as it was now useless without any more ammo and then frantically tried to stuff ammo into the revolver. The creature lunged again and managed to nick my arm. The scratch it made wasn’t much so I kept loading. The creature returned to the roof for another attack and I reloaded the revolver. But I didn’t fire; I waited until it made another attack. The creature stayed in its position. It was obviously thinking the same I was and wanted me to attack first. So I did.
The creature dodged each bullet then lunged. Mistake one. I launched my fist right into its ugly face and catapulted its neck back to its original position. The creature wailed and screeched. I ignored it and kicked it in the side again and again until the creature stopped moving. Then through blind rage I picked it up and swung it repeatedly into the wall, then threw it down the stairs. My head throbbed and I groaned and began running up the stairs dropping the revolver and torch in my new fit of rage. I stumbled and moaned all the way up until I reached a spot where the stairway had caved in. Then I fumbled back down the stairs for a door. Finally I found one and flew right through it, bumping into the wall. My head throbbed harder and my heart sped up rapidly. I blindly looked down the new hallway and saw mutants running towards me. Then my head stopped throbbing and my heart stopped banging and a primal instinct emerged.
I ran towards the mutants and close-lined one. Snapping its neck. Then I grabbed another and swung it into another mutant who tumbled, yelped and then ran away. The fourth mutant snarled and ran away also, so I snapped the mutant I was holdings neck and then slammed myself through another door. The room spun and I felt like I would collapse. Then voices filled my ears as hands pulled me away and onto a mat. Then I blacked out.

* * *

I opened my eyes to find my self in a dark room with a single door. There was light coming from under it. I moved over to the door a gripped the handle. The door swung right open and the light disappeared. Then there was a chilling whisper in my ear. “Not yet John. Not yet.”
I awoke abruptly and panted hard. A hand pushed me back down and a voice said to stop fighting back and relax. I did as I was told. Someone placed a damp cloth on my forehead then asked for my name.
“Where am I? What happened? Who are you?” I asked.
“You ask to many questions. But if you tell me your name and how you got here then I will answer your questions.” Said deep and calm voice.
“My names John. And I really don’t remember much at the moment. My head really hurts.”
“It should be after what you pulled. You practically used your head to make your way into this room. Not a very smart idea.”
“It seemed like it at the moment.”
“Ah, so your memory isn’t gone. Now tell me. How did you end up here?”
“I only remember a bit. I remember walking up stairs. Then a mutant attacked me. I managed to kill it. But then my head started to throb and I started to lose control. All I wanted to do was pummel the mutant repeatedly. Then I ran up, through a door and, well. I don’t quite remember much after that.”
“Seems to me like you experienced a lot of anger. Perhaps a little too much? Most likely got your adrenaline running more than it should.”
I slowly raised myself up into a sitting position, rubbing my head. The man talking to me moved over and crouched down close. He had a slightly angular face with a slight shadow over his chin. His hair was a dark brown and his eyes were the same but with a touch of green. He wore a white shirt with a blue security coat with torn sleeves.
“Maybe. Now how about answering my questions. Who are you and where am I?” I finally answered.
“I am Francis. Head security of this section of the facility. This is a small infirmary which I stocked up with guns, food and medical supplies to last long enough for me and the others who have managed to find their way here a way out of this hell hole. Though I don’t think that we are ever going to escape. We’ve scouted this entire floor for a way out but there is no way out. The elevator went down about three hours ago. Too bad it was the only elevator that leads right from the bottom to the surface.”
“Now that you mention that, that elevator might just have been the one that I was in about three hours ago. I barely got out alive. Though the more I move through this place, the more I wish that I wasn’t alive.”
Francis peered around the room, “Yes, this place does have a way of tormenting the people inside it. It never used to be this way. Much more peaceful. But now it’s infested with mutants who just want to tear everything apart. Even themselves if they have to.”
“Hmm, are you sure that the elevator was the only way up.”
“Well there is another way. But you have to go through the generator room.”
“Again with the generator room. Can’t I have to go through something else?” I complained.
“You seem like you don’t like these generator rooms. I’m guessing you’ve had bad experiences before?”
“If you count losing your best friends because of some stupid objective you’ve been sent to do, and having to go in a room infested with mutant egg sacks to find a key-card and then have to escape it without being eaten by the mother then yes, I guess you could say I’ve had bad experiences.”
“Well in this one you don’t have infestations to worry about, or losing friends. One mutant guards this room. A powerful mutant that strikes in a most unusual way. Leaping towards you only to strike from a different angle. It is very swift. Hard to get past. I originally had another six of us. Three of them got killed before even making it halfway to the other side. Impossible to get past this mutant. In fact, before this I herd the rumours about the experiments being done. And how all the scientist were very pleased about finally making three of them work.”
“The super-humans. The ones that escaped and began reeking havoc, killing everyone.”
“I see you’ve herd of them.”
“Herd of them. I’ve seen one and fought it. Took a while but I managed to defeat it.”
“You defeated a super-human! Now this I don’t believe. But then again, after the display you showed, I’m not surprised. Perhaps you can defeat this super-human as well. Help clear the path to freedom.”
“Sure thing. I want out of this place as soon as possible. But first, where is my watch?”
“It’s over there just next to your medical bag. So, are you a medic?”
“No, I’m a soldier. I was just carrying that bag around for supplies until I can get out.”
“Hmm, that’s too bad then.”
“Why?”
“You know how I said that there was five of us, and three got killed. This one got slammed into the wall. Then a piece of debris landed on him and broke his arm. He could really do with medical attention. As far as I know, if the arm isn’t mended in the right way, it can prove fatal.”
“I’m sorry that I can’t help him. My skills in medical work really aren’t very good. I barley passed health in high school.”
“Maybe if we can get out of this place we can get him to a doctor.”
“Perhaps.”
Suddenly the man on the table began to groan and the other man in the room by the door ran over. “Errg, grrr. AHHH!”
Francis moved over. “What the hell! Quickly, he’s going into shock! Jeremy, go fetch some water! John, grab some bandages from the cupboard over there! Leo, hold him down!”
“Francis, something is happening to his arm.” Yelled Leo.
“Then hold it down! He must be restrained!” He said frantically. “Hurry up with that water!”
“I’m going as fast as I can, we have very bad water pressure down here!”
“Here are the bandages.” I said as I handed them over.
“Good, now go to that cupboard next to the sink and grab the sedatives.”
“AHHH! Errrg, help me!” Cried the man through gritted teeth.
“Don’t talk damn it, you’re wasting your breath.”
“I’ve got the water.” Said Jeremy as he rushed back.
“Ok, now pour some over his head then onto his chest.”
“I’ve got the sedatives.”
“Good. Leo, hold his arms down. Jhon, hold his legs and Jeremy, can you hold him down on his chest but don’t put too much pressure on him, we don’t want him to suffocate.”
“HELP ME! ARGHHH!”
“What’s happening to him?” Asked Leo.
“I don’t know.” Replied jermey.
“HOLD HIM DOWN!” Ordered Francis, his veins bulging as he tried desperately to sedate the man.
“Just give him the sedative all ready!” Pleaded Leo.
“Jhon! Hold down his legs.”
“No. Pull away from him.” I requested, stepping back slowly.
“What the hell do you mean? He needs to be helped.”
“If you were smart you would have noticed this by now. Look at his side. Do you see that large brownish scratch? It’s too late to help him now.”
“Jhon, what the hell are you talking about!”
“Forget him Francis, just give the sedative.” Asked Jeremy.
“I’m trying to but you wont hold him down! Jhon, stop acting stupid and hold him down!” His face went to surprise as I aimed a pistol right at the man. “What are you doing?”
“He’s infected so I’m putting him to rest.”
“You’re insane! We can still help him.”
“No we can’t. Don’t you get it? He has been infected. He will soon be a mutant, mindless and dangerous. If I don’t put a bullet through his head now, then he wont be the only one to die.”
“Are you saying that you’re going to kill us now?”
“No you idiot! Aren’t you listening? He has been infected. That means that he will now mutate into one of them, and when that happens he will kill us. Now get out of the way.” I demanded.
At that moment it was too late. He stopped moving. The others loosened their grip on him and Jeremy felt for a pulse.
“Are you happy now. He’s dead. We could have helped him.” Shouted Francis, furiously.
“Wait Francis. There’s still a pulse. He’s ali…”
Jeremy’s face froze as the man on the table placed a deadly grip around his throat. Then the man got up off the table and then cracked his neck. He stared at Leo for a few seconds before grabbing him around the neck. Francis tried to restrain him but it was no use. He was launched back onto the floor. Leo gasped for breath and tried helplessly to get loose as he was lifted higher. I pointed my gun and shot. Each bullet hit with deadly accuracy, yet it had no affect. The man threw Leo’s now lifeless body into the wall then picked up Jeremy and started walking towards me, dragging him along by the foot. I shot again until there was nothing left in the gun. The man’s mouth then opened. Not normal like it should. The entire mouth and jaw opened up to reveal very sharp teeth and a long spiked tongue. He then swung Jeremy around and tried to hit me with him. He missed by mere inches then threw him into a wall and let out a deafening scream. Then he collapsed onto the floor. There was a large piece of metal sticking into his head with Francis’s hands gripped around the other end.
“I’m sorry that I didn’t believe you. I never thought that anything like that could really actually happen. Now we’ve lost three people instead of just one.”
“I should make it four just for your ignorance. But that would make me just as bad as the idiot scientists who started all this.” I noticed the small gash in his arm. “Hows your arm?”
“It’s just a scratch. Nothing more.”
“He had just a scratch and that mutated him. Come here. I have something in my bag that will help you. It’s a special antidote that was made to counteract the affects of the infection.”
“Wait a second. If this does what you said it does, then why didn’t you tell us earlier so we could give it to him?”
“Because it was too late. The antidote must be taken shortly after an infected creature has wounded you. Now, because I need to take some too, we will have to split in half. Do you have anything to drink out of?”
“I’ll go grab something. I think there are some small glasses in the cupboard over here.”
“Good. After we’re done, we will need to take everything that we might need and then we are going to get past that mutant that you spoke of.”
“Oh no, I’d rather take my chances inside here than trying to go through there again.”
“Don’t worry. I’ve gotten past worse. I took on a superhuman remember.”
“True, but you had large machinery to thank for that.” He smirked.
“Also true, but that still doesn’t change the fact that I managed to finish it off with my bare hands.”
“But it still doesn’t change the fact that you had help. And this time you don’t.”
“Not true. This time I have you to give me a hand with killing this one. And don’t you worry. We’ll get past it and escape. Besides, you need to help. You want to live don’t you?”
Francis smiled, “Fine. You’ve convinced me. But if anything bad starts to happen, then you’re on your own.”
I nodded my head then began to equally fill the glasses with the drink.
“Heres to getting the out of here and sending any of those bastards that gets in our way down to hell.”
Francis half-smiled over his glass. “But don’t you see. We are already in hell.”
We drank the antidote and then began packing what we would need. At the same time, I thought about how we would be able to defeat the superhuman.

Chapter 5: To the next level
The hallway was quiet as we tiptoed along towards Generator room and our fight with the superhuman. At one point we came to a section where the lights wouldn’t work and we had to slowly strafe along the wall to avoid bumping into anything. Though we knew we were alone, I had the strange feeling that we were being followed. I ushered Francis along quickly but the feeling didn’t leave me. When we reached the light I stopped and rested against the wall.
“You feeling all right. You seemed in quite a hurry to get through the darkness and into the light. Your not afraid of the dark are you?”
“Of course not, I just had this feeling. Like something was following us. But I don’t have it now so lets keep moving.”
We walked for about another ten minutes before we reached the room. The door was scratched and there was blood on the handle. Francis loaded his guns and then acknowledged me with a nod that he was ready for whatever we had to do. I loaded the shotgun and then nodded back. Francis began to reach for the handle. I braced myself for whatever would be inside, but as soon as Francis tried to turn the handle the door creaked and then fell down.
“So much for the element of surprise. Maybe we can scare it with an unexpected ferocious attack and try to get an upper hand. Sound like a good idea?”
“I can’t think of anything better. Now after you John.”
“Oh no, you opened the door so after you.” I smiled.
“You thought of the plan so after you.” Gestured Francis.
“But you’re closer to the door so you go in first and I’ll cover you.”
“You’re the one who killed a superhuman already so you go in first.”
We argued a bit more for a while until a loud growl made us stop and look straight into the room with a show of panic on our faces. The superhuman was standing only few metres from the door and didn’t look too pleased to see us.
We stared at the creature and it stared back at us. It seemed to be smart. It was waiting for us to make a move and by the look of its large muscular legs and powerful claws, whatever we did first, it would most likely still get the better of us. I observed it some more, trying to find a weak spot. But there appeared to be none. The creature had an exoskeleton so maybe we could try to break its bones and immobilise it. Its long spiked tail seemed to be one of its most dangerous tools in combat so we would have to avoid getting too close to that. It had a small head with a long mouth that was filled with dangerously pointed teeth. It didn’t seem like we would even have much of a chance, even if we had a RPG.
Francis began to sweat at the pressure of standing there waiting. Then he moved one leg back. The creature springed into action immediately, and Francis hesitated and fired. I turned the gun around and swang as soon as the creature was only a few feet away. It scored a direct hit causing the creature to stumble for a few seconds. Francis took to the advantage and started whacking the creature across its spine. The creature swang its tail around with amazing dexterity and knocked Francis back. Then it attempted to slice my gut with its claws. I fired the gun, not giving it a chance to make another attack. But it was unsuccessful. The creature’s tough exoskeleton was too strong, even for a shotgun at close range.
The creature sneered and then lunged at me. It was too fast and I was knocked to the ground. It attempted to bite my head off and I fought furiously to get it off me. Francis recovered from being knocked back and then whacked it hard across the back with the gun. The gun broke on its back and the creature then changed to attack him instead. Francis narrowly dodged and lunged, but was then struck in the leg from its mighty tail. He wailed in pain and fell strait to the floor. The creature stood above him and then raised its left arm ready for a finishing move. I jumped back up onto my feet and then shouldered it into the wall before it could do any more damage. It screamed its head off and attempted to fight back, but I had managed to pin it against the wall.
Francis rolled over and tried to stand but couldn’t. So he picked up the shotgun and pulled himself up against the wall. He used all his strength to get himself up onto his feet but almost fell over again. It appeared that his leg had been broken when the tail had whacked him. But he still managed to stay standing. He slowly slumped over to where I was, the creature still attempting to get me off it. Francis aimed the gun at point blank range, right for the creature’s head. BANG! I flew against the other wall and Francis fell back down again and cursed. The creature had managed to get free just before the trigger had been pulled. It stood between us and sneered through an irritated grin. Slowly it backed up into the room, never taking an eye off us. As soon as it was through the door it disappeared.
I crawled over to Francis to see how he was doing. His leg was in bad shape. But he would be fine if I could find something to brace it with. I opened up the bag that had been torn during the battle. There was nothing inside that could be used. I looked over at the gun that had been broken almost completely in half when used to strike against the creatures back. With a little bit of bending it should work well enough to brace his leg with the help of a lot of bandages. I crawled over to it and began bending it back in place. Meanwhile Francis searched the bag for some morphine to help with the pain. I managed to bend it enough for it to be used as a brace and then crawled back over to Francis. Francis held the brace in place while I wrapped bandages up around his leg. It would have been better if we had a doctor but this would have to do for now.
We didn’t go straight into the room. We rested for about half an hour to get back our strength. I didn’t see how we would be getting past this creature any time soon. I didn’t even think that an army could beat it. We had to try and refine our strategy. The creature must have a weakness. We just had to find it and then manipulate it to our own advantage.
* * *
During our rest, I could have sworn that I saw the creature slowly stalk past the door. Hiding in the shadows and watching us carefully through its dark, hollow eyes. Francis seemed to be ready to take it on again. His face was eager and there was a look of determination in his eyes. He wanted to take it on again. I was eager too. My goal while here is to get the hell out of here and back to the surface. That creature blocked my path and I wanted through. Using the wall to help me. I got up and prepped my weapons. Francis checked my actions and then repeated the same, but a little more slowly. His leg was extremely sore. He would have to be extra careful in this next battle. I knew that he wanted to get back up to ground level as much as I did. But he also wanted revenge for the lives that the creature had taken.
We didn’t have much of an arsenal left. I had a 9mm, one grenade and a SMG with three extra clips. Francis still had a revolver with him and the flash-bang grenade. The Assault rifle was out of ammo, but he kept it anyway. I could feel sweat drip down the side of my face. The creature was near. Waiting for the best time to attack. We had to be ready.
We crept into the dark room, guns prepped for anything the creature would do. Francis felt around the doors entrance for a switch but did not find one. Slowly we moved into the room scanning everything we could. The room was dark and the machines that were once active sat in a cold frozen state. The room was too dark for the roof to be seen and the floor made hollow sounds as we crept along it. Where was the creature? It seemed to be baiting us further in so that it would be able to take advantage of us. I could feel its presence, a large cold figure lingering over us. Then Francis whispered something to me.
“I found a switch. I think it’s the reboot system for the generators in this room. I’m going to flick the switch now. Be ready”
The switch made a loud echo across the room and an electrical sound could be heard through the room. Then came the sound gears and pumps working. The room began to light up and illuminate everything. We peered around, backs against the wall. But the creature was nowhere to be seen. Then a dark shadow flew past us followed by a hollow scream. I looked up and saw it, ready to pounce.
The creature snarled and showed its fangs. Then Francis shoved me out of the way and then there was a flash of light and a yell from the creature. Francis had used his flash-bang grenade to stun the creature; I turned around and saw it thrashing about on the floor. Francis opened fire and the creature blindly charged towards him. But it missed and crashed into a pile of crates. It then turned, having regained its vision, and looked strait at me before it snarled and then charged. I had barely any time to dodge as it lunged. The creature’s tail flung around and knocked me over.
Francis began to hop over and shoot from the revolver. The creature stood, poised to strike with its left claw. My left hand came to intercept and hold back the claw while my right pushed back the creature from the neck. Its teeth seemed far sharper than before and its breath was putrid. If my grip loosened even a bit, my head would be in those jaws. At that moment, Francis smacked the creature off me with a long steel pole. Then he quickly helped me up and we both took cover behind a generator. The creature slowly lifted itself up and began sniffing the air to find us. When it did, I immediately began firing the SMG while Francis got up and moved away with the revolver and pole still in his hands. The creature skidded around to where I was crouching and lunged. The claws narrowly missed my head as I rolled aside. Then the creature screamed and stumbled. Francis had shoved the pole strait into the creature’s side.
“How do you like that? Huh!” Yelled Francis.
With the pole still protruding from its side, the creature turned to face us and once again began showing off its teeth and whipping its tail around. Francis continued to shout at it and fired his revolver. This was my chance. I lunged myself at the creature, gripping onto the pole and pushing it further into its side. The creature tried to spin and attack me, but Francis restrained it by putting it in a headlock. We had taken control over this fight, now we had to finish the job. I indicated to Francis a generator that was rather bare and its large crooked gears and sharp blades were completely visible. Francis acknowledge he knew what I meant to do and began pulling the struggling creature towards the generator while I continued to shove the pole further and further into its flesh. Then the creature flicked its whole body and Francis lost his grip, which gave the creature enough time to knock him away. It then stood up on its hind legs with me still gripping the pole. It made eye contact with me so that would feel its rage piercing my through my own. For a moment I lost focus and loosened my grip on the pole. Then Francis yelled at me.
“What are you waiting for? Finish it!”
I shook my head, stared back into its eyes and then gave one more mighty push. The creature screamed out, the pole now poking out its other side, and almost fell over. I then lunged myself, ramming it into the generator. For a split second I thought my life had ended. The world spun and only a loud crackling noise could be heard, then my body was launched backwards. And my mind went blank.
Moments later I opened my eyes to see fire. The power had once again gone out. Then I remembered the creature. Had it died? And what of Francis? The room was lit slightly by the flames. Nothing could be seen. Then I saw movement. A figure moved towards me, stumbling slightly.
“Are you all right? That was a pretty good fire show, wasn’t it?”
I slowly stood up and looked at the half smile of Francis.
“Then its over?”
“Yep, shredded it up, spat what wouldn’t out, then finally blew itself up. Not even a superhuman could get out of that.”
“Then we can finally move on towards the exit?”
“A-ha. The stairs should be just through the door over there. Unless it’s caved in, it should take us up to the next level. Might be a bit dark for a while. That explosion caused a malfunction, but the emergency lights should be on in some places.”
“Good. Then lets go.”

Chapter 6: Hope
For almost one good hour we walked the dark hallways. The stairs weren’t as much help as we had hoped. Three floors up, and according to Francis, another 16 to go. We took a quick rest in a locker room where we thankfully found a working tap with fresh water to cool us down and fill our canteens. The best the luck we had so far.
We found another stairway at one point, but after sticking our heads through the door we immediately had to run. Eleven mutants had sprung out and now chased us. Running was not very easy, Francis still had his sprained leg and I had taken a beating when the superhuman went through the ‘blender’.
Every now and then a mutant would catch up and we would have to shoot it down and run again. We couldn’t keep this up for much longer, and it seemed like there was no end to the mutants. After eight, in total, had been shot down, another group of seven appeared in a room we tried to hide in. We narrowly escaped being cornered. Ammo was low and injuries were high. With my last clip slammed into the SMG, Francis finished off another mutant that came running around. I spied an elevator. Though it would probably take us down, or get us killed, we didn’t have much choice. I slammed the button and was replied by a blinking ‘out of order’ light.
“I think we used up our luck when we found that working tap.” I said, sarcastically.
“Don’t worry, At least if we die, we’ll be taking down a bunch of these pricks with us.”
I grinned at the joke, any humour was good enough, but preferred the idea of living. Francis took out another mutant and I began looking around for another escape. Last time there was a grating in the roof for maintenance. Then a figure at the end of the hall way sprinted past, shooting once before running again, screaming, followed momentarily by a mutant. Someone else, another survivor!
“Francis, I just saw someone. They’re being chased. You think you can hold them off while I go save him?”
“Only if you give me your SMG.”
“Don’t waste it.”
I threw my gun to Francis, un-holstered my 9mm and began sprinting down the hallway. Another scream echoed, but it wasn’t a man’s voice, it was a woman’s. To my left I saw the mutant beginning to attack. The person had cornered themselves in a room. I fired the 9mm and elbowed the creature out of the way. The creature snarled. It was a big one and the 9mm rounds had little effect. It lunged at me, but I placed it in a headlock and began wrestling it to the ground. The gun may not do much, but its neck would break if twisted the right way. A few bullets skimmed past, one just missing my head and the others hitting the creature’s underbelly. But where did the bullets come from? The person could not be seen.
“HOLD YOU FIRE!” I ordered.
One more bullet flew past, and no more followed. Then came the sound of cracking followed briefly by a snap. The creature’s body went limp and slumped to the ground. I got up and scanned the room. It was still too dark to see. Gunfire began to slit the silence again before stopping minutes later. Then there was a voice.
“Where are my glasses? I can’t see properly without them.”
It then clicked; this person can’t even see properly and was shooting in the dark. I could have been killed!
“Why the hell were you shooting if you need glasses to see? You could have killed me! Where are you?”
“I can see, just not too well. Now could you please help me find the glasses so I can take the antidote.”
“You have an antidote? Is it the cure to chemical-M?”
“Yes.” Her voice now sounding angered.
More gunfire sounded down the hall.
“John! Are you done saving now? I could use a little help.”
A small, slim figure slid out from behind a desk and then slowly stood up. Placing a small bag on the desk as it did. Through the small amount of light a slight smirk could be seen.
“I found them. Hey, why don’t you make yourself useful and turn the switch on.”
She seemed rather bitchy, but I moved over to the entrance and turned on the lights. There was a quiet humming sound from the lights as they slowly turned on. The woman was wearing a white lab coat and searched through her bag with her back turned towards me. I moved over, slightly peeved off from her attitude and nearly killing me. I managed to calmly speak.
“I didn’t think there were anymore survivors down here still.”
“ I could say the same thing. A-ha, found it.”
The woman took out a small case and opened it. Inside were several small vials with a purple liquid swirling inside. It was hard to believe she had so many vials of the antidote. She then took one out, popped the top and drank the whole thing. Then pivoted around to face me. Her face was quite a beautiful one. Her dark brown hair was tied back in a sophisticated fashion and her light blue eyes sparkled through her glasses.
“I suppose you want one don’t you.” Francis came around the corner at that moment, a smug look on his face, “and one for your friend to?”
“Who’s the girl?” asked Francis.
“Well, I was about to ask just that. And also how she got her hands on so much of the antidote.”
She raised an eyebrow. “I guess you two aren’t from around here? These antidotes were given out to everyone working down here when this place all went to hell.”
“I wasn’t told about any handouts.” Said Francis, annoyed. “I’m just in security.”
“That explains it. Security isn’t aloud to know about what goes on down here. Though I thought they would have distributed them out for as many as possible. I guess it was only for us who worked on the… well I can’t tell you that.”
“Go ahead. We know of the ‘super humans’ and the experiments that were going on down there.”
“Really. Well then there’s nothing to hide. The entire research division were given the antidote while working down here due to being exposed to Methridite. I think the same treatment was given to those down in the mines. Anyway, what’s your story? Didn’t think soldiers were even aloud down into the research area’s.”
I recalled the horror of what had happened outside. The dropship’s taking off, leaving many behind. And my friends, not even given a chance. Embracing the flaming death as it came down. I still can’t believe that they could just leave us like that and then kill off so many without even giving it a second thought.
“Well? Is your toung tied?”
I refocused. “If you tell me you name first, perhaps I’ll tell you my story.”
She raised an eyebrow and smirked. “Very well. My name is Natalie.” She smiled, “And you two are?”
“I am John and this is Francis. I got down here while fighting on the surface. Then there was an air strike, but just before hitting, I fell into a crevice, which lead me down into the lower levels of the facility. I found a scientist who told me to take a letter to some guy at the other facility which apparently is also working on the same experiment that I uncovered after taking the elevator down when it should have taken me up.”
“So you’re trying to get out and then head off to the other facility. Do you even know where that is? And do you realise that it is overrun now, just like this one.”
“Your point being?”
“It was working on the same experiment as we were. That means super humans are now running amok in Siberia!” Her voice now angered.
“So that’s where the other base is. I was wondering how I would find that one out. And who cares about these super humans. They’re not unbeatable.”
“You haven’t seen their true capabilities then. You have no idea what they could just do to all of humanity! They were supposed to end this war and save the human race from death. Now they’re going to hunt down, and kill everyone in the world. These creatures can’t be underestimated. They learn quickly and adapt even quicker to their surroundings. We have created the earths last fate.” Her eyes shed a tear, and she dabbed them off with the neck of her coat.
“Earth’s last fate hasn’t been decided yet. I know so. These super humans are beatable. We have proved it. Two lay dead and only one escapee remains. Then this place can be nuked and the remaining mutants are destroyed along with their remains.”
“You’ve killed two of them already! But that’s not possible.”
Francis holstered his gun, “yep, we’ve taken two out. You should have seen the last one, sliced up and blown apart.”
“Then perhaps there is hope of survival yet.”
Natalie took out two more vials and handed one to Francis and the other to me, “It’s up to us then.” She then closed her bag and swung it over her shoulder, “We should keep moving. They may be gone now, but they will be back, and possibly with larger numbers. I think there’s an emergency fire escape somewhere near here. It wont go far, but we’ll be nearer to the top.”
She then walked past me and out through the door, stopping only to check around the corner before continuing down the hallway. “You coming or not?”
Francis turned to me with a half grin.
“I know what your thinking. Nice arse.” He then drank the antidote and followed Natalie, laughing as he went.
I shook me head, drank my antidote and began to follow as well.

Chapter 7: Mainframe
Eventually we came upon the emergency fire escape. As Natalie had said, it did not go far, perhaps only three floors. So once more we stood inside a slightly lit hallway, hollow and eerie with the smell of blood wafting through along with the feeling of dread. I looked at Francis, he seemed to be holding up well, but each time he moved his leg he winced a little. It needs much more time to heal. Natalie seemed to be in the highest spirits of all of us, especially for someone who is responsible for unleashing the horrors that dwell within the facilities dark hallways. But I reckon she was just trying to act tough, ignoring what had happened. Just another person caught in hell’s trap.
“I think I recognise this place now. This is the floor where the level 3 control centre is.” She smiled and then began to quicken her pace.
“Level 3? We must be further from the top than I thought.” Smiled Francis.
These few words did not raise my hopes though. Before we had worked out that we were probably 13 more floors. But we may still be 20 floors. How much further would we need to go before we would even reach daylight once more? I caught up with Natalie and stopped her so I could talk.
“Natalie, how far is to the top floor from level 3?”
“It’s 18 levels, no more, no less. Once we by-pass the control centre here, getting to the top should be easier. Less security doors to get through.”
She kept smiling. She must have been knocked pretty hard on the head to be smiling in a situation like this.
Finally Natalie stopped outside a large door. She popped open her bag and began to sort through it until she found a security card, with her name on it. She went to slide it through the card-swipe when the door opened auto-mantically.
“Come in, but come in quick!” Said a voice from within.
Francis and me walked cautiously into the room, but Natalie almost sprinted. I was beginning to consider the ‘hard hit to the head’ theory. Anything could be inside that room. Just because a human voice came through doesn’t mean that a mutant isn’t about to lunge out and tear your head off. Luckily that was not the situation.
“Terry, is that you? It is. Hey Terry, open the door, let us in.”
“Natalie, it is good to see you’re still all right. But I can not allow you to enter this room.”
I peered over to where Natalie was. She stood in front of a glass window, talking to a man on the other side that seemed to be frantically working on the computers inside. He seemed to be ill. His skin was pale and blood covered his clothes. Natalie continued to talk.
“What do you mean? Let us in. Terry, this isn’t funny. Look, nothings wrong with us, the man over there in the blue uniform is Francis and the one next to him is John. They’re all right. They saved me. Now we’ve found you that’s one more addition to our group.”
Terry, didn’t seem to care who we were, neither if we were all right. He typed some more into the computers then looked up again and spoke.
“I am sorry Natalie, but I can not let you in due to the infection. Not you, but me.” The sounds of gears could be heard from the walls.
“Terry, let us in. We have antidotes, we can cure you.” She was beginning to sound worried, and the sounds of gears were getting louder. Something was not right. “Terry, what are you doing in there?”
“I have to do this Natalie. It is the only way to kill off the infection and stop anything from escaping. I wish I did not have to do this, but there is no other choice. I am going to release the Zegato’s.”
Natalie put her hands to her mouth and stepped back. An opening in the wall where Terry was opened, and a bulky machine slowly walked out. Then openings in the wall of the room we were in opened and two more came out. They seemed to be curled up into a ball. I turned to Natalie.
“What exactly is a Zegato?”
“It’s a project that was made as a defence to stop intruders from getting in, and as a last resort, anything from getting out. These machines are insane in there own way. We never thought to use them, just pull them out to frighten people.”
The machines began to un-curl to reveal themselves. On their right arm was a large buzz saw and on the left was a mini-gun. The head appeared almost alien like, and the body was like something from sci-fi, horror movie. A tail stretched a meter and a half from the back with a scorpion like point on the end. Its figure was horrifying, and the fact that Natalie described it as ‘insane’ only increased the fact of immanent death.
“If these things were never used in real combat, then why did you keep them? Wouldn’t it be more logical to destroy them?”
“Our original head scientist, Varix Zegato, had a lot of authority. We had to keep them, but we reached agreement that they would never be fully activated. Just kept as a lingering threat to stop the undisciplined. Terry, do not activate them, they’ll kill us all!”
“Exactly.” He chuckled. “It is the only way. There is no other choice.”
Francis stepped in, “To hell with no other choice”. He fired the revolver at the window, but to no effect. Obviously they used bulletproof windows.
“Natalie, Francis. We must run. If these are as dangerous as you say then we must escape. There is nothing we can do.” Natalie kept on standing there, a shocked look on her face. She seemed to be stunned. “Come on! We must get away from here! Give me your key-card so I can by-pass the door!”
I grabbed her arm and the key-card and dragged her towards the door. Then the Zegato’s began to stir. They were activated.
“Run all you want. Once I finish off imputing the code, they’ll hunt down everything in the facility anyway. Everything will be purged!” At that point he pushed the final button and turned to face the Zegato arms open. “Slay me great beast!”
“He is insane.” Said Francis.
The door then opened and we all began to run, the sound of screaming echoing from the room. We turned around the next corner, only to encounter a Zegato. Facing us, its alien eyes staring into us. Then it raised the buzz saw and for an instant time was frozen. BANG! Francis began to fire at the machine and Natalie pulled me away from the machine. The saw missed, but a hail of bullets followed.
“I think there’s a stair case down this hallway. The Zegato’s are only placed on all floors bellow and on the Level 3 control room. It should be a while before they come to any floor above that.”
Something in her voice seemed to make me feel better. But I still wasn’t sure we would make it. Francis grinded his teeth as the pain from his leg shot up through his body. Then we finally reached the door, Locked. Bullets and screaming could be heard throughout the area. The Zegato’s were doing their job, and I didn’t want to see how well they did it. Natalie pulled out her 9mm and shot the lock off, then rammed the door, which opened but proved a stupid idea as she was hurt by doing it. We then ran up the stairs, the sound of fighting still sounding from below. Our situation seemed to be worsening each second. Not only did we have to deal with hundreds of mutants and a super human but now a pack of homicidal robots as well! Eventually the stairs stopped and we had to go through a door. Breathing heavily we burst into the new hallway, guns at the ready, but nothing to be seen.
“We need to take a rest. We’ve been running for too long and I doubt any of us has gotten much sleep.” Breathed Francis.
I looked at my watch. I don’t know how long Natalie or Francis had been awake, but I had been woken up at six in the morning, and it was just passed midnight. And the last time any of us took the antidote was just over three hours ago. We would need to take it again to stop the infection.
“Here, we can hide in this medical room. Natalie, how many antidotes do you have left? It’s time we took one.”
We entered the room and Natalie fiddled through her bag and took out the case with the antidotes. “There’s five left.”
“Ok, we should all take one now and try to get some sleep. Francis, help me barricade this door, we don’t want any unexpected visitors. And we will need someone on guard duty. I’ll go first since Francis needs to rest his leg, and you, Natalie, have been through more than us. I think we’ll get about an hours sleep each, make it a good one if you can.”
Francis moved a big table over to the door then took the sheet from it and laid down on the floor. It seemed like we would all have trouble sleeping. Natalie took a sheet from another table and hunched up in a corner with it. They didn’t say a word; they were too tired. I grabbed a chair and sat down on it, checking how much ammo was in the gun. And for an hour I sat there, watching the door and listening.
At one point I heard a creature outside sniff about and try to find a way in without making a noise. But after a minute it went away. After the hour, I woke up Francis, who seemed rather annoyed but took the watch and began his job without complaining. There weren’t any more sheets to take so I just slumped down on the floor, and in ten minutes I had fallen asleep.

Chapter 8: Dream
I stood alone in a dark room. The lights turned on and some people in white coats came in. A dark haze obscured their faces. They all moved over to three large tubes and began to examine them. I tried to move closer to see what they were looking at but could not. Instead they moved away and faded into the darkness. Then a burst of red light shot towards me and I was in a small room. Something familiar about the room made me feel comfortable. Then there were voices, familiar ones. The underneath of a door lit up and shadows danced past it every now and then. It was hard to make out the voices on the other side.
“You can’t do this, its not right! Think about it, please, you’re scaring me.” Said a woman’s voice, scared
“This world is corrupt, soon society will tear its self apart anyway, better to end it now and save us the pain.” Yelled a man
“Perhaps so, but its not time, there is still a life ahead, please stop. Please! We can find help.”
“Help? There is no help in this world. It has become everything that it should not be! This one utopia is no more than a ticking bomb. People are not supposed to live like this. We have been deprived from ourselves! Soon the time will come when man shall rise up against what we have created to create a new world. One that isn’t supported by people who have no idea what it’s like to actually live.”
“Perhaps your right, but we need to let the world learn this for themselves and bring back everything we have lost from this ‘utopia’ creation.”
“I’m sorry, but that is not soon enough. I will die from insanity before then, and you will too. Just like every other mortal on this planet! This utopia is supposed to help save people, instead it’s going to kill them all off, make them so peaceful that they just let themselves die!” The voice was becoming angered.
“Your insane! You’re just insane! No, please don’t. Don’t do this, it wont solve anything.” The woman was extremely scared now.
I continued to stand there. I wanted to run away and hide, but my legs would not allow me. Then came my name.
“JOHN, RUN!”
BANG!
* * *
“John, wake up. Its time for us to get moving.” Another woman’s voice, but this one was different. My eyes opened to reveal the face of a young, beautiful woman. It was Natalie. “Good, you are awake now. Times up sleepy head. If we don’t move then we’ll never get out.”
“I think there’s another one out there now. Possibly four of them.” Francis said.
My mind swam on the final thoughts that passed through my head before I was woken up. That dream was strange. It seemed to make no sense, and yet it seemed so accurate, and real.
“You sleep well? I know I did. Sort of.” Natalie was putting on her tough attitude again. “Here, its got a full clip in it. Two more on stand by. Francis has one full barrel and eight more bullets to put in it. And I’ve got two clips left. There are supposably four mutants out there that have been trying to find a way to sneak in for the last half hour. We don’t know how tough they are. No other way out but through that door. I’m feeling fine and Francis seems to have his leg back.” My head cleared, “Just thought I should give you the heads up, Second Captain Johnson of the UNDF.”
My mind centred on what she had just said. “How did you find out?”
“Well for one, the uniform, which I figured wasn’t IFE standard when we met. There’s the canteen of water you carry which has the UNDF signature on it. And though I am a scientist, I do have a half idea of what each stripe means.”
“Well you were close, but I’m not a captain, just a warrant officer. And how do you know I didn’t just take this canteen from some other soldier?”
“It has your name inscribed on it.” She smiled.
“Caught in action. Well, now you know. What are you going to do about it?”
She seemed offended. “I’m not going to do anything. We’re all in the same shit at the moment, so I figured that which side we belong to is irrelevant right now. Just like our lives are to the army we used to serve.”
She walked off towards the door and began to talk with Francis about the plan to get out without being devoured. The memory of the dream began to swirl in my mind again, but it was pushed back again and put towards the present situation. It seemed that the best plan of action would be to kick away the barricade, smash open the door and blast our way through. But ammo was limited, and the strengths of our enemy were unknown. Perhaps we could keep the barricade and open the door. But would that work. To survive, we needed a good plan. If it didn’t work, we could all die.

Chapter 9: Escape from level 2
Eventually Natalie walked back over to me, a slight smile, but with a look of grief.
“I don’t know what to do. Francis says we need to set up a barricade and try and take them out as they come through the door, but I don’t know if this is possible. As far as I know, if we sit behind a barricade, they’ll just go up and around us. I really don’t know what to do.”
I stood up and looked around the room. There wasn’t much inside, just a few chemicals, cupboards, chairs and tables. Then there was a new plan. Sitting on a bench was a jar of Pure Sodium. My years at university taught me that when you mix pure sodium with enough oxygen and, or water, it explodes. With enough of it, we might be able to use it to distract and hurt the mutants, just long enough for us to make an escape. But how would it work. The best reactant was water. But if one of us stood there to dump water on it while the mutants came through, they’d be killed. Was there something in this room that could be used as a sought of fuse, so the water mixed with the Sodium just as the mutants came through. Then a plan hatched.
I got up, moved over to the table with the jar of Sodium, it appeared that there was at least 40 grams in the jar, then I placed it by the door, moving the barricade away at the same time. Then I placed another jar on top of it and emptied the water from my canteen into it.
“Ok. Here’s what we do. We kick open the door. Then as they come in, we shoot the jars. If possible, at the same time, so they react with the best effect. That should give us a chance to blast through the mutants and escape. We happy on this plan?”
Natalie smiled, “I didn’t think you were the scientific type.”
“One of the top grades in chemistry back in uni’.”
Francis gave me a quick nod and moved over to the door. Ready to open it as soon as we were ready.
“Hang on. Shouldn’t you and me shoot out the glasses? Both of us need to shoot at the same time.” I aksed.
“Are you implying that I don’t know how to use a gun? Is it because I’m a civilian, or perhaps because I’m a girl?”
“What? I never said that. It’s just that Francis and me have plenty of experience. And are the best aims here. We should shoot while you open the door.”
Francis began to walk back to us. “He has a point. It’s part of our job to shoot guns.”
“Ok then. If you really want to play stereotypical, we’ll make a wager. If you give me a chance, and I prove to you that my aim is as good as you two. When we get out of here, you have to buy the drinks. But if I lose, I’ll buy. Sound like a fair deal?”
“Hell, I’m in. I haven’t had a decent drink in ages. But are you sure you can pay for what I want.”
“Positive.”
Francis then shook Natalie’s hand. “I’m in then.” I stared at her, then Francis. I’d rather know that there was a steady aim backing me up, but the sound of a ice-cold ale sounded nice, especially a free one, sounded like a excellent idea. So I chose to give her the benefit of the doubt, and shook her hand on the deal.
“You wont be sorry. At least until we get out of here.”
We readied ourselves, Francis standing by at the door. “On the count of three, Francis opens the door. On five, we shoot the glasses.” Francis nodded and Natalie put all her focus into aiming the weapon.
“I’ll shoot the bottom, Natalie, you take the top.”
“Right.”
I then had second thoughts about this. This wasn’t a gamble on who paid for the drinks, but a gamble on our survival. If Natalie missed, we would most likely not get out alive. I shoved the thought back and focused on my target and began the countdown.
“Ok. One… Two… Three” Francis kicked open the door and swung out of the way, a mutant standing right outside, snarling. Another was just behind. “Four” The mutant began to enter. Standing only inches from our trap. The next mutant looked like it would pounce. Then it was right over the glasses and the second mutant was right next to it. Another mutant was now outside the door. “FIVE!” BANG, BANG! The two glasses shattered and the chemicals mixed. The first mutant moved in then hopped back as sparks erupted underneath it. The second mutant bumped into the first and then snapped at it. Natalie shot again and a bullet penetrated right through the skull of number one. Followed by two more. The mutant stumbled and dropped. Then the second one fell, having another three bullets enter its head too. The third mutant cautiously backed away. Snarling. Francis swung around and shot at it. The mutant slumped back, but appeared unfazed. Then a forth came in, leaping toward Francis. I shot at it and shouted run. Francis got by the mutant after kicking it in the ribs. Then after smacking the mutant outside, we made our escape.
“Which way?” I shouted.
“If I remember this area. We turn left at this hallway.”
Francis nudged past “Uh, they’re following. Quickly!”
“Sure enough. Both were in close pursuit. But as we began to go around the corner, both mutants toppled over as a barrage of bullets rained down on them from behind.
“Run faster!”
Francis turned around to shoot. “Hey, they’ve stopped following. We can slow down.”
“No! Run faster! I demanded. “There are Zegato’s on this floor!”
“What!” Stuttered Natalie. “Damn it! Turn right here, quick!”
We ran faster. A Zegato burst through a door behind us. Followed by a huge mutant. It was a battle down here. Zegato’s versus Mutants. And then there was us. The lab rats, running for shelter.
“We’re almost there. There’s another maintenance shaft around this corner.”
Francis sprinted faster. Just enough to get about four meters ahead.
I shouted, “Francis, don’t get to far ahead!”
But he didn’t listen. He was to busy running. Rather fast for someone with an injured leg. It must be hurting greatly.
Francis jetted around the corner, now seven metres. Then there was a yell. As we came around the corner I slid to a halt. Natalie bumped into my back. “Why have we stopped?” In front of Francis stood a Zegato. Its right arm was raised high. Francis was stunned. Unable to move. Then he gave a quick glance to us, a slight smirk. And looked back at the Zegato.
“Run. Get out of here.”
He then began firing his gun into the Zegato’s chest. But each bullet had no effect. And he knew it. Natalie grabbed my arm and pulled me the other way. But my legs were stiff. Francis was about to die, and the Zegato just stood there, picking up reves on its already bloodied saw. Natalie thumped me on the back of my head, and then tried to pull me away again. But I could not move. Then the saw came down. And my arm reflexed and before I knew it I was shooting at the Zegato, charging it with everything I had. Natalie screamed, but all I heard was the sound of the machines saw, the reverberating of the gun, and the sound of blood drops on the floor.
The Zegato realised I was coming and aimed its gun. But before it fired, my hand clenched around its arm and forced the gun to aim at the Zegato’s head. The sound of bullets against steel echoed through my head, and in a moment it was all over. Then the sound of Natalie’s voice could be heard again. She grabbed my arm and we began running again. My mind was still blank and it wasn’t until we reached the maintenance shaft and began to make our way up again that I re-focused on what was happening, and began to realise what had just happened.

Chapter 10: Upon a blood-stained hand
Another 15 minutes had past and when finally crawled out the other end.
“We’re in level 1 now. Ground level is only two floors above.” She stuttered slightly, and then sniffed. “Hard to believe we are almost there. We can finally be relieved.”
I realised that Natalie had been crying. Not from the joy of being so close to freedom. No. It was from something else. Francis was dead. She must have gone through a lot. Seen many die, some probably very close to her. And here I was. My best friends have all died, including Francis, and yet I could not shed even one tear. War seems to have that effect on you. It drains you of all your emotion so that you become stronger. But I hadn’t lost all emotion. I put my hand on Natalie’s shoulder. And tried to comfort her. She was staving off more crying. Her eyes were all red.
“Don’t worry about me. I’m fine. Just need more rest. And a cold drink. Which you owe me now.” She was acting tough again.
“If you want to cry. Go ahead. I understand how you feel.” Part of me told me I was lying. I hadn’t seen my closet friends and everyone else you cared about get torn apart by mutants. All those I’ve seen die, I either didn’t know, or they were an enemy. Only my friends, Jimmy, Led man, Duncan, Junior and Newton died, but in truth I wasn’t there with them, when the missiles hit. I was taken down to this hellhole. Then the thought of just killing myself came again. To end the pain. Permanently relieve myself from this war. But then I realised that I could not do this now. We had gone through too much to give up now, and now there was an urge I had never felt. An urge to protect Natalie. To stop her from getting hurt anymore. The urge told me to do anything for her, even if I should die. Natalie began to move along.
“We should go this way. Once we pass the security door, we head up some stairs and out the front. We’ll be right outside.”
I watched her move away. She was wobbling slightly. I moved alongside her and we began to walk down the hallway. There were no sounds but our footsteps. Natalie then looked at me and stopped.
“Hold still for a second.” She pulled out a small white cloth from her pocket and began to wipe my face. I thought that there must be a smudge of something on my face. But when she pulled away the cloth and tossed it away, it was no longer white, but red. Was I bleeding? I put my hands to my face and felt around for a wound. But there was nothing that wasn’t there before. I pulled way my hands to look at the bloodstains all over them. Then I looked my shirt. A streak of blood crossed down the front. I looked under my shirt. But there was no wound. Then I realised. This was not my blood at all. It was Francis’s.
“Shit!” I pulled off the shirt and threw it to the ground.
Natalie stopped and looked at me hesitating.
“Why didn’t you say anything?”
“Natalie looked back the other way. And began to shake more. She just stood there, and after a small pause, she finally muttered something, “I just… I was going to…”
Natalie began to shake more. I noticed a small drop hit the floor. She was crying again. I went over and she turned around and before I knew it, there was a sharp sting in my right cheek. Natalie then fell onto me and rested herself on my chest. Shaking uncontrollably, crying more than before. I did the only thing I could, and cradled her. She then spoke.
“I’m sorry I slapped you. But you scared me. You shouldn’t have done that.” I did not know what she was talking about. “You didn’t even think, did you? You just charged in.” My memories came back. She was talking about the Zegato and me. When Francis died. “I was afraid. Why didn’t you run?” I had nothing to say. “Losing Francis was enough. But what would I have done if I lost you? I didn’t want to be alone down there again.” I tried to change the subject. Looking around for something to talk about.
She stopped shaking as much and looked up me. And I looked back at her. Our eyes were locked, and there was no way out. Then I found a way to change the subject.
“Natalie. What happened to your glasses?”
“What? Don’t try to change the subject! And besides. I don’t need them anymore. My visions fine.” She seemed slightly angered, so I released my hold. “Come on we need to go. Here, put this coat on. You’ll get ill if you don’t have a top on.” Now she was changing the subject.
I took the coat, and put it on. It was less bloodied than my shirt. But it was a tight fit and one of the arms teared when I put it one.
“It can barley move my arms with this. I think I’d rather get ill.”
“Don’t joke about that you idiot.” She was annoyed and angry now.
Rather than saying another word, I tore off both sleeves. I’d rather just left it off, but I did not want to enrage her more. Natalie began to rummage through her bag again. Then she took out the antidote case and threw one to me. I almost dropped the vial.
“It’s about time we had one of these, right?”
Before I answered she drained her vial and tossed it away, the vial smashing against the floor. I drank mine and then began to follow her again. We had reached the security room. Through here was the last door to freedom.

Chapter 11: The third encounter
We went through the door. The security room seemed caved in. And wires dangled from above. There was a small gap leading up to the next floor. It was dark, but small streaks of sunlight would help us know where to step next. I pointed it out to Natalie, and she nodded.
We climbed up some debris and into the dark passage. It wouldn’t be easy. The wrong step could mean falling back down. We cautiously walked along. Keeping close to the wall. A faint screech echoed from behind us. Of course there are mutants up here. But none seemed close, for now. However, there was a strange feeling. The feeling you get when you’re in a dark room, and you can feel these eyes staring straight at you. The feeling seemed familiar. Like back when Francis and me had been edging through a dark hallway towards the generator room with the superhuman. I did not like it. This time the presence seemed closer than before.
“I found a some stairs. Ground level, here I come.” Natalie seemed back to normal again and the presence seemed to have edged away. But it was still there. And it seemed to be following.
“I can see light. We’ve made it!”
The presence then seemed to right next to me. But this time it was real. Time stopped just for words to enter my head. Words from a cold voice that seemed like they were from a deformed human. In some ways it was demonic. But though they were slightly croaky. The words were clear and understandable.
“You’ve done well. But there is still one more obstacle. And I still need you alive.” The words stopped. And I could feel hot breath on my neck. And then it spoke once more. “Run.” Then the presence left as quickly as it had came.
“John. Are you coming or not?”
Did I just hallucinate? No, it was real. But what was it talking about. What did it need me for? And run from what? At that moment a loud roar sounded across the area. Something large was coming. It was like I could sense it.
“We have to get out of here. We must not be killed.”
“What the hell was that? Hang on; the exit’s that way. Hey, careful. I can run on my own, you don’t have to hold my hand!”
I ignored her. That thing gave us a heads-up warning. It knew that something was coming. The exit came into view, a small light breaking through the slightly ajar door. Another loud roar echoed from outside. What was it? I kicked open the door and then had to shield my eyes from the sudden light. It didn’t take long to refocus our eyes. It was still fairly dark, but the moon was full and there were no clouds. A quick check at my watch confirmed it to be 3:38 am. Then there was another roar and I charged off again, Natalie almost falling over. I slowed down slightly, I was still holding onto her. Another roar, this one the closet.
“It’s here.”
“What’s here? John, you’re scaring me again.”
I could see a gleam of light from atop the cliff. The cliff face was only about 25 meters from where we were. And On top were people. But not just people. They were soldiers. Their uniform was too hard to make out from hear. Another roar. It was extremely close now. But where was it. Though the area where we stood was completely open and barren, the source of the roaring could not be found. Then my senses tripped off. And I flung Natalie and myself out of the way.
The creature had appeared. It stood on all fours. Towering twice my height. The creature had armoured plates across it’s back and its underbelly seemed to have an extra set of arms underneath. Except they appeared to be more like pincers. The head was sort of half human, half bird like in the way it arched forward into a beak at the front. Its four legs bent in both directions. In other words they bent backwards at the knee, then there was a second knee four inches below where they bent forward. It occurred to me that this was another superhuman. The third one. How it managed to get out here is unknown. But it couldn’t have been too recent. The super humans mutate to suit their surroundings. This barren wasteland was not what I’d call suitable for its chosen design. I met its gaze. The eyes were blazing red as if a fire had been lighted up inside them. It gave it the look of complete enragement. Like a berserker has when it loses all control and moves in on its target. Yet the superhuman seemed completely calm.
“Natalie. Hand me your gun.” I took the weapon. Not taking my eyes off the creature. “The cliff over there. I hope you’re a good climber. I want you to run over there and get to the top where the soldiers are. Do it, and do it fast. Don’t look back, not even for a second.”
At that moment bullets began streaming towards the creature. It temporarily lost its focus and Natalie began to run. Then it centred on her and snarled. The bullets did nothing to slow it, and now it looked like it was about to go after Natalie.
With out a second thought I moved in front of the creature and Natalie, pointing the gun right at its eye. It looked at me. Wondering what my next move was. It didn’t seem to like me getting in its way. It took another look at Natalie then at the cliff where the soldiers were shooting, their efforts pointless, then back at me. I shook me head slightly to let it know that I was its only target now. And if it wanted a fight, it was right there in front of it. There was no way that I was about to let it get to Natalie. I would die before then.
The gunfire ceased. The soldiers obviously realised that it was futile. But almost as soon as it stopped, a whirling sound and a loud boom sounded. Moments later a burst of flame erupted on the creature and I was propelled backwards from the force. They weren’t thinking they were just acting. That missile could have killed me. I pushed myself up and clenched the pain in my ribs. Nothing seemed broken, and within seconds the pain resided. Then as I looked at the smoke cloud where the missile hit, the smoke quickly shifted as if something just ran out. Yet nothing could be seen. But there was a faint sound of footsteps and small puffs of dirt came up, leaving nothing but a footprint behind. It then occurred to me. This creature was able to cloak itself and blend into the background, like a chameleon. Then it appeared once more, right in front of me leaping in the air, its clawed feet glistening in the moonlight. But I was as quick as it was, and efficiently dodged its attack.
“You should know, mutant. I’ve already slain your two brothers. And I’m stronger than I was before. I’ll give you one more chance to give up.”
The creature seemed to understand what I had said, and appeared humoured by my threat. I took a quick glance at where Natalie was. She was at the cliff face and trying to climb up. The soldiers had noticed her and seemed to be lowering a rope. This was good. She would be safe now. All that was left was to finish off this superhuman. For none were allowed to escape. The damage they would do was far too great. Winning was the only option.
The creature lunged again, regaining my full attention. There was nothing in my arsenal that was capable of piercing its flesh and it knew that. I dodged the attack, but only by an inch. I needed a way to beat it, but the area was too barren. There was nothing around to use as a weapon. The creature began to circle me. Its eyes seemed to have intensified and blazed in their sockets. The back of the creature seemed to have spiked up slightly. Was this superhuman so powerful that it could adapt its body in only a few minutes? Then it disappeared again. Leaving only puffs of dust again from where it stepped. It was still circling. This creature was far more powerful than anything else. And if my theory was true, then I had to defeat it before it adapted enough to land a hit. All it would take is one. And then it’s over.
The creature reappeared again, this time sprinting. There was no way of dodging it this time. I tumbled away, but one claw came in contact, and I was knocked away, rolling. The creature left no time for me to get up. It immediately jumped as high as it could in order to bring its full weight down in one finishing move. I cursed and attempted to roll out of the way. The creature missed, but the ground shook with a force that rattled my bones. Dust sprayed up into my face. The creature had disappeared again. While pulling myself back up, the creature hurtled back through the dust. It was trying to trample me now.
Once more time froze and the world blanked out, leaving nothing but the mutant, and me. Then my mind faded out, and a sudden force caused my body to leap backwards in a new way. The creature missed and slid to a halt then turned and lunged again. My body then moved straight towards it, an insane attempt, but it worked. The creature seemed surprised at my sudden attack, but nerveless, continued its lunge. Then just as its left claw connected with my chest, my right hand grabbed hold and twisted the leg, my left hand then clenched into a fist and hurtled up into its chin, and as it collided, it pushed up into the soft flesh with unbelievable force and penetrated into the mouth. The leg my right hand still twisted caused the creature to lose balance and it began to fall over, and as it did so, my left leg came up and kicked it in the rib cage leaving the sound of bones cracking. The creature wailed in pain as I withdrew my fist, a dark purplish blood covering it. But it wasn’t over. Before my mind could even act, my right hand had reached for the gun and was placing it inside the open wound. And within a heartbeat, the trigger was pulled. Time seemed to regain itself as the full clip was discharged into its skull. Finally the world came back and my mind regained control.
The next thing I knew, I was standing by the creature’s lifeless body. A gun stuck in an open wound. It’s once blazing red eyes now fogged up and veiny looking. My breathing began to get uncontrolled and my heart rate seemed unsettled. A sudden pain erupted from my ribs and I fell down clenching my chest. My mind was a blur and seemed to not recall what had just happened. It all seemed like a dream. Yet it was all real. I stayed there clenching my teeth and fighting off the pain. It was difficult to breath. And every time I tried to remember exactly what I did, my memory became a blur and punished me with a headache. Then the world began to turn black again and the last my eyes saw were the faces of the people lifting me up.

Chapter 12: Monster
Everything was black, and there I stood, alone in a world without life. Then once more a burst of red light came and I found myself in a room again. But everything was clearer now. I was in a bedroom with blue curtains and red walls. The blue carpet had triangular patterns on it and the bed had a quilt to match it. Though the room seemed familiar it was strange. Everything seemed bigger. Then I realised I was no longer a 38 year old man, but a five year old child.
Then familiar voices came. They seemed distressed and I wanted to find out why. I exited the room and headed right towards the door at the end of the hallway and then stood outside the door. The voices came through the slightly ajar door. There was a mans voice that seemed angry, if not, slightly drunk. And a woman’s voice that seemed almost the same, but there was fear in it. My mind remembered this. This happened before. The dream. The voices. The fear. But this time I could move. And as the voices spoke the same words I heard before, I opened the door a little more, just enough to see the silhouettes of the two people. Then the woman took a step back and I could see her face, full of fear and terror. And a shadow of the man, with an arm outstretched, a gun in the hand.
“I’m sorry, but that is not soon enough. I will die from insanity before then, and you will too. Just like every other mortal on this planet! This utopia is supposed to help save people, instead it’s going to kill them all off, make them so peaceful that they just let themselves die!” The voice was becoming angered.
“Your insane! You’re just insane! No, please don’t. Don’t do this, it wont solve anything.” The woman was extremely scared now.
I continued to stand there. I wanted to run away and hide, but my legs would not allow me. Then the woman saw me.
“JOHN, RUN!”
My legs turned and I ran down the hallway, which seemed to be longer than ever. BANG! The sound came loud and clear.
“John. Come back John. It’s all right John. Come to daddy. I wont hurt you.” The voice slurred and was hard to hear. But I didn’t listen regardless. I wanted to run.
“John! Listen to your father! It’s all right. Me and your mother are just having a nice chat.”
The hallway ended and a door opened. I ran through. It was raining outside. And pitch black. A single streetlight was all there was. Then the sound came once more, for the last time. BANG!
I fell over into a puddle. Tears streamed down my cheek and my nose ran. I stayed there on all fours, the rain coming down on me. Then the rain stopped and I opened my eyes. In front of me was a single puddle. My reflection staring back, but suddenly the reflection changed, and a deformed creature stared back. My eyes transfixed on its eyes. The face was scary. Then it spoke.
“The time has come for you to realise the past and to stop your suppression. You have to move on with what happened in the past and not blame yourself. It was not your fault. And do not fear me, for all that has happened has happened for a reason. To make you stronger and be able to cope with the past. You haven’t become the monster yet. And you can still stop it from happening. But you have to let go and move on. Or else it will kill you.”
And with that it vanished along with the puddle. And the realisation of everything came into view. The memories of my past, and the truth of war. He was right. Civilisation did destroy itself. And I couldn’t help but think that what he did was somehow right, though I knew that it was wrong. Then as I lay there in the total black, a white light emersed me, my eyes opened to the real world.

Chapter 13: Back to reality
I couldn’t see anything. The light on me was far too bright. My head was unmovable. But through the corner of my eye, the silhouette of people could be seen. They appeared to be examining me. Then the first one spoke.
“The subject appears stable. Now he’s awake we can do some real tests. Can you give me an update on his heart rate and brain waves,” Spoke a man.
“Heart rate is two above normal and holding. Brainwaves have increased by 12%. He’s over the concussion now. So he should be able to speak.” It was a woman’s voice this time.
Then the first one spoke again. “Ok, lets see what we can get out of him.”
I hesitated slightly at the sound of that, but figured that he was just going to talk.
“Ok, can you tell me your name please?”
What a dumb question. But it was probably standard procedure. So I answered. “My names Johnson Cross.”
“Good. Now, can you remember what happened last?”
Now this was a hard question. I tried to remember what I did last. But was greeted by a blur. But then it came back to me, almost everything that had happened in up till now.
“I was trapped in a facility at a IFE base. I managed to escape along with a,” I paused for a second. This was likely a UNDF base. It would not be a good idea to say she was an IFE. “A woman who assisted in my escape. During my presence down there I uncovered much and was forced to fight creatures created by the IFE. I remember fighting three super-humans. Each different depending on how they adapted. All three were successfully dispatched and we managed to escape. That’s all I remember.” I was lying. There was much I left out, but for a reason.
“Excellent. But I only asked what you did last, not everything you did while you were down there. But that’s still good. At least we know you don’t have amnesia.”
“Mind if I ask you a question?”
The man paused for a moment. Then answered. “Ok. Go ahead.”
“Could you get this damn light out of my eyes and unbuckle me so I can bloody move! Please.”
The scientist seemed startled by my outburst. But then turned and nodded to someone else in the room and the light turned off and the buckles holding me down came off. I sat up on the bench and rubbed my wrists then looked around the room. It was defiantly a UNDF base. There were heavily armed soldiers standing by the door. They kept a fixed eye on me. Watching my every move. I looked around some more. The man talking to me had a bald patch on his forehead and grey hair poking out in tufts on the side. His eyes were blue and his nose was crooked. A mole poked out on his temple. Another man stood behind him. Wearing a facemask and cap. His hair was brown and so were his eyes. In the corner stood a woman by a console with various gadgets on it, which seemed to be what kept a check on my life signs. She also wore a cap with her facemask dangling by her neck. Her face was young and pretty, with blue eyes and blond hair tied back.
“How are you feeling?” This voice was familiar.
I turned my head around to look behind and there stood Natalie. She was wearing an olive tank top and olive pants. The clothes hugged her body perfectly and I quickly answered the question before she realised that I’d had just eyed her up.
“I’m fine. How about you?”
She took some steps forward and the guards readied their weapons.
“Relax yourselves. It not like I can do any harm to anyone.” She looked back at me and gave a half smile. “Ever since I got here they’ve had armed guards following me everywhere. I may have worked for the IFE but that doesn’t change the fact that I’m a civilian. What am I going to do? Shout at them to death?”
Her little joke was just what I needed to lighten my mood. It was good to see her okay.
“Anyway. I’m fine. The hospitality has been well, apart from the constant tests they keep running. I guess you’re lucky. You’ve been asleep through the entire thing until now.”
“Tests? What tests? And how long have I been asleep?”
The first man stepped in,” You’ve been unconscious for almost two weeks. And I wouldn’t call them tests. More like, examinations.”
“That means the same thing.” Natalie interrupted.
I looked back at the man. He had a nametag on. ‘Dr Timothy’.
“You know Timothy, she’s actually right there.”
Dr Timothy looked back at me. “That’s Doctor to you. And no, they are not the same. A test implies we were putting you through tasks to see how well you were doing. When you woke up and we asked questions, that was a test. However we were doing examinations. In other words, we had to open you up to put everything back together after you collapsed your lung, broke three ribs, and almost had a cardiac arrest.”
I lifted the gown I was wearing. Sure enough there were plenty of scars.
“We also had to do some examinations on that big brownish-purple mark on your gut. Which we fixed up after replicating the antidote your friend supplied and injecting it into you. The mark disappeared only hours after administering it.”
“Go ahead. Say it. None of this would have been done if it weren’t for me.” Boasted Natalie.
Dr Timothy looked at her and smiled. “Yes. You have been a great help. He would not be alive if you didn’t help with the vaccine construction. But you wouldn’t be alive if we hadn’t given you the same treatment we gave John. So you only helped. I can’t say its all worked just thanks to you.”
Natalie folded her arms. And didn’t say anything.
“Now, John. I’ll need to do some more ‘tests’ on you before you can leave. Your internal structure has changed a bit so you need to get used to it all before you do any physical activity. Something in the back of my head told me that he was wrong. That though I may have changed, I could do everything I could before. And better.
“You know doc’. As much as I’d love to stay and do all these tests, I have better things to do. Like eat for instance. And get myself a beer.”
“No. You cannot. You will stay here and complete the tests. These are the orders from your father.”
“My fathers here. Where? Where is my father?”
“That’s none of your concern now. If you want to see him, you can once we’re done.”
“No. You can’t tell me what to do.”
“Don’t make us use force.”
Natalie looked worried now. Then she calmly staid, “John, just let them finish off their tests. It doesn’t take long.”
The soldiers were aiming their guns. I noticed their ranks. Only privates. An advantage to me. I jumped off the bench and moved towards the door. The soldiers seemed worried and threatened their weapons.
“You wont shoot me. Stand down and let me through the door. Or do you want trouble from my father?”
The soldiers were really worried now.
“Don’t do it. You two stay there now. Your orders are to guard us.”
Now this was odd. Why did they need to be guarded from me? Is it because of what has happened to me after the events that occurred? The soldiers stood their ground, but they trembled. I grabbed both guns and pointed them away then shoved past.
“By the way, your safeties still on,” I said to the one on the left, “And if both of you trembled that much on the battlefield you wouldn’t be still standing. I suggest you get some nerves.” At that I left the room and walked off. Natalie then came out of the door.
“John. Hang on.”
I turned to face her. “Are you going to try and stop me?”
“No. But you may want to put some actual clothes on. Our dormitory is just down this hall, and then turn right. Room number 16C”
“Hang on, our dormitory?”
“Yeah, so. Is that a problem?”
“No. Just didn’t think they’d put us in the same room.”
“They were the only ones free at this end of the base, and they wanted both of us close to the labs.”
“That makes sense. Well, I’ll see you later then.”
“Okay. Don’t get lost. This place is huge!”
Natalie then turned around and went back into the room. Being in the same room as her sounded great. But I felt embarrassed at the thought. I’d prefer to have been separate. But it was probably my father’s choice to put us in that room, and when he makes a decision, you need to follow it. There are only two people in the world who have a chance of getting out of what he told you to do and that was Tanaka lee Wong, because he is the commander of the entire UNDF. And then there’s me, because I’m his only son.

Chapter 14: Relaxation
The mood was especially low the next day. The previous night I couldn’t sleep. My mind couldn’t get away from the dream, and each time I closed my eyes the images flooded back in and caused a pain in my chest. So for the night I sat there, trying to understand it all. To piece together the pieces to find what might have been missed. But apart from what I already knew. The only thing that came to me was what I had become. I knew I was not the same anymore.
During my stay down in the facility, extremely strange things happened to me. My body had changed, strength and agility wise. And my heart and lungs had gotten much more stronger.
For the rest of the night I tossed and turned in my bunk. Occasionally just listening to the noises of the room. The room wasn’t much. There were two bunk beds, and a small air-conditioner in the far corner that continued to hum quietly all night. There was a small room that had a toilet, sink and shower inside. Which I spent around half an hour in the previous afternoon just relaxing in the shower. The feeling of water on my back was very welcoming. But it still stung slightly as it washed down the wounds, which were healing up at an extraordinary rate. The bunks had curtains that could be drawn across them for privacy. And for a while that night I stared at Natalie’s bunk. Wondering what she was dreaming about. She didn’t really move around. She was a calm person. And quiet. The way she slept gave the impersonation that she could be dead, but the whispering sound of breathing showed she was still alive.
In the morning I woke up tired. I remembered falling asleep at around 2:30am. And it was only 7:00. I probably would have slept for longer if it weren’t for the doctors rousing me from my slumber. They wanted to run more tests and, this time, fatigue stopped me from resisting. So for about an hour it was test after test. Until finally they said I could leave. So for another 3 hours I slept. But my dreams were obscured by memories and when I awoke at 11:15 in a foul mood, and not wanting to be bugged. So I went out for a walk. Eventually I found the bar, and here I am at present, sitting around. Its 1:30 and I’ll probably be here much longer.
The bar was crowded with soldiers. But at least now there wasn’t anyone staring. And a couple of marines had stopped asking questions about what had happened. The music was turned up rather loud and some drunken soldiers were dancing and singing. Celebrating their latest victory over an IFE stronghold. The room was poorly lit. There were some flickering lights and some fluorescents above the pool tables. A light haze from cigarette smoke danced along with the light near the roof, causing the room to seem darker. The surroundings cheered me up slightly. I had missed this. But it was not enough to lift my mood.
There wasn’t much of a list to choose from in the way of drinks. So I just had some scotch, which the bartender boasted to be his own homemade brand. The swirling brown liquid wasn’t much to look at. But whether or not the bartender was lying made no difference. So I complemented him upon it for it was defiantly one of the best drinks I’d had in a long time. But then again, my taste buds might have enjoyed anything now.
Thinking about how things would taste after all this time reminded me that I hadn’t had a proper meal in a long time. So I ordered some nachos with extra guacamole. Which was one of my favourite foods.
Another half hour passed and I finished off my third shot glass of scotch. It was defiantly a strong drink, so I decided to cut it off there before I got drunk myself. Or maybe that was just what I needed to lift my mood. The nachos had gotten cold and there was still half a bowl left. Then a woman plopped her self right next to me and ordered apple schnapps. It was Natalie.
“So this is where you’ve been hanging out. Trying to drown your sorrows?”
I wasn’t really in the mood to chat. Even with Natalie. But from common curtesy, I answered.
“Just felt like hanging around somewhere where I wouldn’t be bothered.”
I must have said it in a sort of sarcastic manner, because Natalie seemed slightly offended.
“I see… Well you can’t walk off on me just yet.” Natalie gave an evil smile. “Remember our bet. I proved myself an excellent shot. And you and…” she paused for a moment and the smile went. Then she smiled again, “The bet was that if I proved that I was as good a shot as you were, then you’d buy the drinks. Well, you lost.”
It was funny that she remembered that. But a deal was a deal. Then the bartender came back with her drink.
“I can’t believe you drink that. I hate that stuff.”
“Well my father had heaps of it, so I got used to it. And I like it.” She then nodded to the price board. “I hope you have enough. Because this is the drink you’re paying for.”
At that, she drained the glass and walked off. The bartender saw her.
“Hey. That drink isn’t free you know!”
“It is today. That gentlemen there has agreed to pay for it.” Then just as she was about to leave, she turned and came back. “And John. Your father wants to talk to you as soon as possible.” Then she pivoted again and left the bar.
“My father. I better get moving then.”
I stuffed a few more Nachos in my mouth and put some money on the bar.
“Hang on. Your six dollars short.”
“Six? Shit, how much did that apple schnapps cost? Okay this is all I’ve got.”
“Your still a dollar fifty short.”
“But that’s all I’ve got.”
“If you can’t pay, then don’t try to get woman by offering to pay for expensive drinks. Either you pay up now, or else you’ll be doing the dishes.”
That concept was not on my agenda. I needed to see my dad now before I got in serious trouble.
“Okay. What if I give you my watch?”
“Hmm. Gimme a look at that.”
The man observed the watch for a while. Checking every aspect of it. Then with a quick tap on the face of the watch and spoke.
“Its not working right now, but it’s still a decent watch. And I can fix it. You don’t have to pay this time. But I suggest you have full money if you want to drink and flirt here again.”
I turned and grumbled. My father was looking for me, and he would not be pleased if he were waiting for a long time. Hopefully it was nothing serious.
“I’ll get you for that one Natalie.”

Chapter 15: The boy and the General
My father was, according to the soldiers posted outside his office, in the main hall. Which was unfortunately on the opposite end of the base where his office was. So I was forced to sprint rapidly down corridors until I finally reached the two large double doors of the hall.
I needed to catch my breath first. My father would not like it if I didn’t present myself properly. He was a strict man whose very voice had enough power and authority in it to stop a speeding train. He stood 7 feet 1 inches tall with broad shoulders, a chiselled face with a large scar on his left cheek. His entire left chest was covered in a rainbow of declarations and medals from all his years of service, and he always wore the same black leather boots with his pants tucked in at the top. He was pretty much everything that showed proper military presentation, and he lived by it.
I finally entered the hall. It was large with a roof suspended 16 meters from the floor. There were 20 rows of chairs with an ail down the middle and at each end. Above the door was a projector room that was used during important ceremonies or missions. The room went for 40 meters and both walls had large drapes with the UNDF insignia on it every 6 meters. At the end of the hall was a long table where the generals and commanders would sit down during anything that went on here. And sitting in the middle was my father. His hands placed together with his chin resting on them.
My father watched with unblinking eyes as I approached. And when I reached about 3 meters of him, I stopped and saluted.
“Warrant Officer Johnson Cross reporting in. You called for me sir.”
My father stared for a little longer. Eyeing my presentation. Then he gave a half grin. Stopped resting his chin, placed his hands on the table and spoke in a stern voice.
“At ease. You may sit.”
I did so and did just what I knew he was expecting of me. I sat up strait and focused my eyes on his. He knew that eye-to-eye contact meant that you were listening.
“You are late. I’ve had soldiers looking for you for almost two hours.”
“I am sorry, sir. I did not know that anyone was looking for me and decided to try and relax at the bar.”
“No need to apologise. I figured you might be somewhere relaxing after your ordeal. It was just a matter of finding out where. Though I must admit that I’m a little surprised that you went to the bar. I hear that place is rather crowed with celebrating soldiers.”
“You heard correctly, sir.”
“Enough with the bloody sir’s.” His voice was loud.
“Does that mean I can stop trying to act appropriate and relax a little? My backs killing me.”
“You still have that wise guy personality.”
“With all due respect, I learnt from the best.” I gave a slight nodding gesture to my father.
“Hmm. Perhaps too well. You shouldn’t try to be exactly like me. You need to follow your own path.”
“But I have been.”
“Don’t lie. Everyday you go out to fight a war you had no intentions of being a part of. I know you hate every moment of it.”
“Not true. I enjoy my occupation.”
“Are you calling me a liar?” His voice was booming now and echoed through the hall. So I didn’t say another word.
“I remember when all you wanted to do is work on Orion. Instead you chose the path of the soldier.”
I opened my mouth to contradict him, but thought better of it.
My father stared at me again. Showing his authority through his eyes. And it was working. I straitened myself up a bit more and then met his gaze with a look of attention.
“Now. The reason I have called you here is not to lecture you on your poorly chosen occupation, but to inform you that, after sending your report to high command,” my father then smiled his crooked grin, “you are being promoted to Lieutenant.”
My face then changed to a look of shock and pleasure.
“But how? That’s a long way to jump from Warrant Officer.” I replied, my face in surprise.
“Well, if you’d rather turn it down…”
“No, I’m not turning it down. It’s just. Well.”
“A big surprise?”
“A real big surprise.”
“You’ve come a long way. My son. You have made me very proud.”
My father then stood up, straightened his back, and then gave a crisp salute. I stood up and returned it. Then we lowered our arms.
“You’ll be presented with that promotion along with the Silver Cross of Heroism and Golden Claw for Bravery tomorrow. I suggest you wear your best uniform as the Commander will be coming to present it. He wishes to see you in person. And please inform Dr. Hays that she is required to be here as well. The Commander will be giving her a declaration as well.”
“Dr. Hays? Or, you mean Natalie. Hang on, but she’s just a scientist. A civilian. But more importantly, she’s not a UNDF personal. She’s IFE. How does that work out?”
“The Commander works in a very strange way. But he has his reasons. I believe he was intending on making her an official UNDF personal and promoting her after that. She has proved herself a very valuable asset since her arrival. I hear that she’s partly the reason you’re alive.”
“Well yes. But wont this cause a disturbance among the soldiers. I mean, this’ll be the first time that an IFE has been made an official UNDF personal, and then been promoted right after.”
“True, this will be a first. Perhaps the Commander believes that this will help to end the war. But I don’t see how that will work. Anyway, it shouldn’t cause any problems amongst the soldiers, I’ll see to that. Enough with the questions and get moving. I’ve left a uniform for you in my office. Go pick it up and then make sure it fits. I suggest you get a good night sleep, the ceremony takes place at 1200 hours tomorrow, so I expect you and Natalie to be hear before then. Well, go on, get moving.”
Baffled by what was going on, I gave a crooked salute and was shouted at, “That was an order John!”
I immediately turned around and hurried off.
“Oh, and John. There are some clothes there for Dr. Hays as well. She’ll need to try them on too. And bring them back straight away if either of them does not fit. Now go.”
I stumbled through the door, heading off to my fathers office. My mind was swimming now. And I was filled with joy and confusion. I was very happy Natalie was going to be no longer considered an enemy of the UNDF. But wouldn’t that make it worse. In truth, we were not winning this war. And there was no end in sight. Somehow, I preferred having Natalie as an enemy. At least then, when we lose, she has a higher chance of being safe.

Chapter 16: Ceremony
The next day I awoke with the sound of giggling and my body being rocked back and forth. Natalie was excitedly hopping up and down. She reminded me of a child.
“Wake up already! It’s nine-thirty we have to get ready. Well, you do. I’m already dressed. Oh good, you’ve woken up.” Natalie stopped shaking me and began to hop back and forth. “I’m so excited. I can’t believe this is happening.”
“Neither can I,” I said in a tired voice. “What time did you say it was?”
“It’s nine-thirty. Come on, you need to look nice don’t you or your father will tear your head off.”
She was right. Whatever time there was would need to be used to increase my appearance.
“Appearance may be needed but so is control. If you hop around like that out in front of several military officials and who knows how many soldiers, people will think you’re a bit weird.”
That comment was enough to stop her, then remove her smile.
“How many will be there? The whole base?”
“Well, the hall has 20 rows of chairs with probably 30 chairs per row. Do the math. And since this is the first time an IFE has ever been changed over to an UNDF, and by the Commander as well, you can count on all seats being full.”
“Geeze. I expected maybe… 50 people there. But the way you put it, there may be 400 people. More even. I’m not too good with a full audience.”
I hopped out of bed and rubbed my face. “Just relax. The lights in the room will be dimmed, except for where we will be, so you wont even be able to see anyone apart from the first few rows.”
“Well that makes me feel better. Now there’ll be hundreds of eyes that I can’t even see staring at me. What happens if I make a mistake? I don’t even know what to do.”
Natalie sat down on her bunk with a grim look on her face. Obviously the excitement was so much that she didn’t even realise how many people would be there.
I stood up and stretched, yawned, then walked over to her bunk and sat down.
“If it makes you feel any better. I’ll be right there. You’re not the only one getting the high treatment. I’ve got to stand there and probably give a speech after I get my promotion and awards.”
Natalie giggled, “You’ll have to be on your best behaviour then. Come on. Your uniforms just on your top bunk. You should smell it. I don’t think it’s been worn yet. I know mine hasn’t. Do you like it?”
I only just noticed that Natalie was wearing the Uniform she was given. She stood up and gave a quick spin. The clothing was a half mix of dress, and military standard. The top was similar to mine, and the bottom was a skirt that came down only a few inches from the ankle where she wore slightly formal black boots. It was military green with small gold tassels on the shoulders, a design common for navy personal. She swivelled again grinning, her hair swaying around her in time with the dress. This caused me to blush. She was defiantly beautiful. And she beamed at me. She knew what I was thinking. And she bent down close to my face.
“What’s the matter? Haven’t you seen a woman in a dress before?”
Then she stood straight up again.
“Well. Get moving,” her voice enforceive now, “it’s quarter to ten now. You need to shower and get dressed. I’m heading off to the hall to suss things out. I’ll see you later, okay.”
She then proceeded out of the room. Tying her hair up into a bun as she went. Was she teasing me? I shook my head and stood up. Then headed to the shower.

* * *

I arrived at the hall at 11:10. My father was slightly annoyed and gave a piercing stare that showed his disapproval. But a quick, and liable, excuse got me out of serious trouble. “Sorry, but it took a while to get all the things on in the right place, and I needed to do my hair and everything so I would look presentable.”
The hall was more filled than expected. The ceremony defiantly gained the attention of everyone and from the front row; all the way to the back, all could be seen were heads. The whole base must have turned up. At the front a platform had been constructed a meter above the floor. To the left of the hall was where I sat. Next to me were my father, an official, and then Natalie. If she was still nervous, she hid it well.
On the opposite end of the platform was another, slightly larger table where two generals sat, along with two more officials, and a vacant seat, which I assumed was reserved for the Commander. The two generals were sitting there, keeping a clear focus on Natalie and me. They were sussing us out. I recognised one as General Timothy Vox. He was well known for his well-planned and strategic defence of Installation 7 three years ago.
An official then stood up and the murmuring quickly subsided.
“Introducing the leader of the UNDF. Commander Tanaka lee Wong.”
At this, all people in the room stood up and saluted as the Commander entered through a door by his table. I spotted Natalie hesitate. She wasn’t used to this. But she stood up just in time and saluted before the Commander began to step onto the platform.
“At ease.”
We all sat down. The only noise the sound of chairs shifting on the carpet. The commander stood there for a moment. Glanced at our table then looked back towards the other end of the hall. In which the lights dimmed slightly leaving the main focus of light on the platform.
The commander was a stern looking man. Standing at around 7 feet 2 inches. His face was well chiselled and didn’t have a battle scar on it. Though his left eye wasn’t blue, but red. During the plot to end the 5th world war, he was hit in the eye by a ricocheting bullet. So a cybernetic one replaced his eye. Cybernetic eyes were fairly new back then. But are quite common now, along with cybernetic arms and legs. His uniform was blue and white with black and white pants. This uniform pattern was common with the marines who worked on Orion. There were red and gold tassels on each shoulder and the left chest section of the top was covered in a rainbow of medals and declarations, like my fathers. His hair was black and cut short and seemed to spike up on an angle.
“We are here today to commemorate a brave soldier who went deep into the heart of an enemy HQ, and destroyed possibly the greatest threat to the UNDF and our cause, but also, to proceed with the first official UNDF designation for someone who was originally an IFE personal. So with no further speech, may Warrant Officer Johnson Cross please come up to the stand.
I stood up calmly, though I was sightly nervous. I’d been to ceremonies before and had to stand up in front of a crowd, but this was different. This was with the Commander.
Upon reaching the stand where the Commander was, he began to talk once more.
“This man went down deep under the earths crust. Penetrating into a top-secret section of an IFE facility. From there he has uncovered plans for the IFE to create a ‘super-soldier’. But it appears that these experiments did not go to plan, and according to what I read in the report. Mutants ravaged the facility. Killing everything they came across, but also that the three successful experiments got lose. The three super-humans.”
He then looked at me and smiled for a moment. Then looked back to the audience.
“These three super-humans were hunted down and permanently subdued thanks to his efforts. And I am glad to say that the threat is no longer a dangerous one anymore. For this he is here-by promoted to the rank of 1st Lieutenant, and awarded with the Silver Cross of Heroism, and the Golden Claw of Bravery.”
He then handed me a new a certificate with some stripes to be sown onto my uniform. Then the crowd stood up and began clapping as he placed medals underneath my pervious ones on my top. I didn’t have many medals. There were a few for outstanding acts in the field of battle. But that was all. The new two medals stood out well against the other three. He then stepped back from the podium and gestured for me to stand in front and give a speech. I knew this might happen, so for the entire morning, I revised what to say. Though it didn’t seem like there was really much. I quietly cleared my throat and spoke.
“It is a great honour to receive these medals, and to be given such a rank so quickly. But I feel, somehow, that I don’t deserve it.”
There was a look of confusion and shock on the audiences face. Except the Commanders. He stood there keeping a clear eye fix on what I did.
“Sure. I went down into the heart of an enemy base and unearthed much. Then, though the odds were well stacked against me, I managed to escape alive. But I could never have achieved it alone. So therefore, I cannot properly accept this without at least properly thanking them. First I would like to thank Natalie,” I gestured towards where she sat and she blushed, “Because of her, I was able to receive the antidote that kept me from turning into one of them. A mutated human with no control over ones own mind. But she is not the only one. I was assisted by an IFE personal. A security guard working down on the lower levels of the facility. Without his help I would have never escaped and would inevitably been killed. And so would he if I we did not work together.”
I knew what I was saying was treason. It would not go down well on my permanent records that I assisted the enemy. It was forbidden by UNDF law to assist an enemy soldier under pretty much every circumstance imaginable.
“However he was killed. Slain by another IFE creation. We were good friends we were. And it was not his time to die. That place was hell and there was no chance of survival alone. He gave his life to save me and Dr Hays,” this was the first time I mentioned her like that and it felt weird, “We would not have escaped otherwise. Our fate would have been the same as his. I don’t deserve these.” At with that I took off the two medals and placed the certificate and stripes back on the pedestal, then proceeded back to my table and sat down.
The entire hall was in awe. Not a single face was without shock. Even the Commander seemed to be slightly shocked. But he quickly recovered his stature and as soon as I looked at him, he met my eyes and gave a curt nod. He seemed to be the only one to understand. My father, however, was furious and had to fight to keep his control. His face twisted and turned red, like he was about to explode. But I paid no attention to him and kept my focus on what the Commander was going to do next. What I said was defiantly not acceptable. My fate was now in his hands.
He returned to his position in front of the pedestal and took a long breath.
“That was… a very intriguing speech. Are you sure about your decision?”
I nodded.
“Very well. And you understand that what you have just said can be considered an act of treason?”
Another nod.
“I respect your decision. Let the records know that I will not hold your speech against you. Due the to the circumstances you were under, it is understandable that you would have been forced to ally even with an enemy in order to pull through and supply us with the information on the disaster.”
The way he said that sounded like I was just up in front of a court and jury. Waiting to find out what my sentence would be.
“However John. Though this man has been the reason you survived for so long, as well as through the help of Dr. Hays. The decision to promote you to the rank of Lieutenant was justly my decision, and that can’t be changed. But it is your decision to deny the receiving of the medals. And if you are satisfied with that decision, then you shall not receive them. But you will follow up with this promotion and collect your certificate and stripes immediately after the ceremony. Now, let us move on.”
The Commander gave another quick speech and introduced Natalie. She took a deep breath and took to the podium. The crowd was indeed fixed upon this, and proved to be the reason so many turned up. The Commander gave another quick speech and explained why the decision was made. Then the two officials and the Generals stood up and walked up to the podium. My father also stood up and went up there, and he scolded me as he did it. The officials took out a piece of parchment and all three generals signed it. Then Natalie signed it, and finally the Commander did. He then said a few more words and then revealed a surprise. Natalie was being given the rank of Private. The crowd was in complete shock. This ceremony would prove to be on that would go down in history. I assumed she would be given the rank of Ensign, not Private. That’s the difference between the UNDF and the IFE. Even if you’re a UNDF civilian personal you are given a rank. That way its like our army is larger than it is. With the IFE, if you have a civilian job, you are not given a rank and are considered a civilian. But once you sign up for the UNDF, you’re immediately a soldier. Natalie accepted and then they all, except the Commander, sat down. Then after saying a few more words, he dismissed everyone.
I sat there for a while. Waiting for the crowd to die down. I didn’t say a word, just sat there fiddling with my thumbs. Natalie came and stood behind me and put her hand on my shoulder.
“Don’t worry. You did the right thing. Francis deserved to be remembered. And besides, you got out of it, the Commander said so.” She patted my shoulder, “I hear there’s a party going down at the bar. I’ll see you there… if you can come.” She then walked off.
My father stood on the opposite end of the hall watching me. He was still very angry. And everyone knew it. So everyone who walked past him ended up keeping their distance and speeding up to get further away from his boiling rage. When the crowd had died down more, he began to walk over to me. The hairs stood up on the back of my neck and my hand began to quiver. But I managed to gain control over myself and sit up straight before he reached me.
“I am extremely displeased with you right now. What you have done has placed a bad reputation our family. You have made a fool, not only out of your self but me as well. You couldn’t just accept the awards and give a nice speech about how you worked very hard to get it. No, you had to add all the things I left out the report, and for a reason! Such things are not needed to hear. The whole base heard what was going on here and don’t doubt the news will spread.”
He was having trouble keeping his voice below shouting level and he was beginning to spit. But I knew that he was waiting for me to cower. So I held my stance.
“Consider yourself lucky that the Commander was here to give authority. For if it was me up there, I would have had you suspended and placed in prison for at least two weeks so that you could learn from your mistake.” He then turned around, hands behind his back, head held up high. He had regained his calm voice. “There is a important debriefing tomorrow at 0900 sharp. And I will not tolerate you being late this time. And if you blab any more of what happened down there, you will be arrested for treason. Understand.”
“Yes sir.”
“Good. Now collect your things from the Commander and go.”
He walked off through the same door the Commander used earlier. I stood up and walked over to the platform where he stood. He noticed me as I came up the stairs and then asked the two generals he was talking with to leave.
“That was a very strange speech you gave there. We have never had something like that before. I believe your father will be furious about this for quite a while. I suggest you step lightly around him. He can be a little… Ill tempered.” He smiled at me and sort of half laughed. “Anyway. Here is your certificate and stripes. You should put them onto your uniform as soon as possible. You’ll need them later. Now, I heard there is a party going down somewhere. You seem like you need to drown out your sorrow. I suggest you go there and try to have some fun.”
It was weird to hear the Commander saying that. He was almost the opposite of my father, yet he was completely disciplined and formal, with a strong, stern voice. He was a strange man. But I liked him. So I gave a salute, and after he returned it, I left the hall and went back to my dormitory to get ready for the party.

Chapter 17: Confession
That night I went off to the party. It was around 6pm when I arrived. There were people everywhere, dancing and singing. It was a sad sight though. They were enjoying themselves, but they seemed to be only doing it so they wouldn’t have to worry about what was said at the ceremony.
I entered the room completely unnoticed. The lighting had been changed. It seemed the bartender had set up streamers, balloons and put coloured cellophane over the lights for different effects. It was very crowded and took all my effort just to reach the bar. All the seats were taken at the bar, and I wanted to sit down. But that didn’t seem like it would happen.
After a few minutes the bar tender came past where I was to deliver some drinks to a few drunken soldiers. He spotted me and once he gave them the drinks, which were almost immediately spilt, he came over to chat. I was in no mood for chat.
“I heard what you said over the intercom. That was very unexpected. I never thought you’d say something like that. Especially in front of the Commander, and your father as well. I bet he was furious.”
“You’re right. He was pretty angry. But I think I got off from the worst of it. But only because of the Commander.”
“Sounds like you got pretty lucky. Oh, and congratulations on the promotion. Now, what can I get ya’?”
“I think I might have some more of your homemade scotch.”
“Sure. You got enough money this time?”
“Yeah, I stocked up on what I had left in my room. Found a few twenty-dollar notes. That should suffice.”
“Okay, I’ll be right back. And by the way, your girl friends here. She was looking for you. Last I saw her she was over the by the pool tables. She’s a good snooker player. Earned herself a lot of money from bets all ready.”
I stood up and began to look around to where the pool tables were. There was too much activity and smoke. But there was a crowd around the table, so maybe she was there. Then a hand landed on my shoulder and made me jump.
“Geeze John, calm down.” Natalie had found me. “It’s a party John. Calm down,” she hiccupped, “and enjoy your self.”
“Natalie. How much have you had to drink?”
“What? Oh barely any. Just enough to help keep my game face going. You should have seen,” another hiccup, “you should have seen me before. I was on a role. Earned over a hundred dollars through bets.”
The bartender came back. “Here’s your drink. This ones a slightly different blend than the last. Could you tell me what ya’ think of it.”
“Bartenda’… could you pleez get me glass of what he’s having. I’d like to try sum.”
“I think you’ve had enough.” I stopped the bartender.
“Nonsenssse… I’m, *hiccup*, fine.”
“Natalie. You’ve been partying for too long. I think it’s time for you to go.”
“Don’t worry about me. I’m fine…”
I drank the scotch from my glass. And then complimented the taste. Then returned my focus on Natalie who was now rocking back and forth. She was worrying me now.
“Come on Natalie. Lets take you back to our room. I think your all partied out now. You need to sleep it off or you’ll regret it even more in the morning.”
“Don’t worry John. I’m fine. I just need a little food, that’s all.”
“Okay, if you leave now, I’ll go grab you some food and bring it to you.”
She grabbed onto my arm and then glared at me.
“I told you. I do not need to leave.”
“Natalie, you’re worrying me. You’ve had too much. You’re going to be sick. It’s time you left.”
“Don’t worry. I’m tellin’ you I’m,” She then began to gurgle and cough. “O-k, maybe I’m a little drunk.”
“Good, we agree now. Can we go?”
“Yeah, sure. Just need a little help standin’.”
I helped her up. And we left the party. I was surprised at her attitude. She didn’t seem like the kind of person who just let her-self go like that. Yet there she was. Stumbling back to our room. Almost throwing up on the way there.
When we arrived I rested her down on her bed and went to stand up to get her some water. But before I could she pulled me down and began rolling around laughing.
“Natalie, I know your exited and all, but calm down. We’re going to fall off! Natalie!”
We tumbled off the bed, me first with Natalie landing hard on top. I cursed the pain, and then tried to calm my own temper so I wouldn’t end up shouting at her. She was in one of those moods where the slightest thing could set you off and I had no intentions of upsetting her.
“Come on John. Relax. You need to relax. You’ve been all jumpy and concerned ever since you woke up from your deep sleep.” Her eyes were wet. She seemed to be laughing so much that she was crying.
“Me relax. You’re the one who’s drunk. Who knows what you would have done had I not showed up and taken you back here.”
She stopped rolling around and pressed her fingertips to my lips.
“Shh. There’s no need to talk. I know what your thinking. You’ve been thinking it ever since we met.”
“What the hell are you going on about now?”
“Don’t play the fool. You know exactly what I’m talking about.”
She stared at me with her limpid blue eyes.
“You love me don’t you?”
I was beginning to tremble now. Was she about to try what I thought she was? Or was she just asking a question for the hell of it? Was she teasing me again?”
“Come on, Say it. You love me. Don’t deny it. I’ve seen how you look at me.”
I didn’t know what to say. Emotions came flooding into my mind and there was a churning feeling in my gut. And she was holding me down tight. She wasn’t going to move until I answered her.
“Speak damn it! Do you love me or not!”
Then before I could think more, the words slipt out.
“Yes. Very much.”
We then kissed. A feeling I hadn’t had for a long time. Of course there were relationships I’d had years ago, back when I was in university. But this was different. Something about her made me feel better. And the touch of kiss gave me a warm feeling. So I embraced her. But then a decent side came in, my control centre. The scent of alcohol flooding from her lungs and I pushed her off.
“Natalie. We can’t do this. Your too drunk.”
“What?” She seemed confused, and then she smirked at me. “You fool. Always trying to look out for me. You worry too much.”
“No. I just care too much.”
Natalie braced herself against her bunk and stood up. Then I stood up too and walked over to her.
“Come on. You’re tired and need rest. Hop in bed and sleep in tomorrow. I’ll lock out the door so no-one comes in and disturbs you.”
Natalie sat down on the bed and laid down.
“Okay. I’ll sleep.” She put a hand on her forehead. “I have a head ache.”
“I’ll go grab a glass of water and something to help with the head ache. Try to keep yourself comfortable. I wont be long.”
I then pulled some sheets over her and walked off through the door and began to lock it down.
“John.” I poked my head around the corner, “Thank you for looking after me.”
I smiled. “No problem.”

Chapter 18: The dangerous mission
The next day I arrived at the debriefing ten minutes early. My father was there and was pleased that I wasn’t tardy this time. But he still had a look of aggression in him. He was going to keep an eye one me and make sure that I didn’t make any more mistakes. Five minutes later, four more soldiers arrived and after saluting, sat down in the remaining chairs. Then when my father was satisfied that we were all paying attention,
the debriefing began.
He took out a remote and aimed it at a projector behind us, and the lights dimmed and the board behind him lit up with an image of a large village area in the snow.
“This here is another of the IFE’s sci-labs. We believe that similar experiments have been taken place there. Just like at the first one in the Amazon.”
I remembered what I had learnt from the computer back down where they housed the super-humans. I had almost forgotten that there was another lab making the same experiments.
“A large amount of activity has been going on there, and reports have told us that,” he paused and searched for the right words, “things have escaped and have wreaked havoc through the village. Satellite images show that the village has been destroyed all, so now there are no signs of human life left. This, to us, is not good news. It means that there is a second threat out there. Possibly even more dangerous than the one in the Amazon.”
This wasn’t good. The super-humans have already proved to be a very dangerous bunch. Even the mutant’s alone are life threatening. And they were contagious. If they have broken out, then they were spreading. My father pressed another button and the slides began to change.
“We have only one way to destroy this… ‘infection’. And that’s to place a tactical nuke inside the heart of the facility. This will destroy it and take anything else down there with it. This is where you will all come in. You four will run under the command of my son. Since he’s already been against them, he has the most knowledge, and therefore he has the best chance.”
The four soldiers gave a glance over at me. Then returned their attention back to the board. I was surprised. I’d never been in command of a mission before. Was this why they wanted to have me promoted to Lieutenant? Because I was their best chance of containing the threat.
“You will deployed at 1800 hours, tonight. Get everything you’ll need and meet at hangar 5 at 1730 hours. No later. Do you all understand your mission?”
We all said, “Yes Sir,” then we were dismissed.
As I left, the four soldiers stopped me. The first one to speak was a tall man with brown hair, and two red eyes. They were cybernetic. His face had plenty of scars on it and he looked like he meant business.
“So, you’re going to be our squad leader? The Generals very own brat.”
The fact he called me a brat did not give me a high opinion of him. But I disregarded the comment.
“So. What are your names?” I asked, calmly.
“Me. I’m Rock. He’s Fisher, that’s Blaze, and that’s Pointman.”
The one called Fisher was a short man, probably no older than 25. He had dark blond hair and a hansom looking face and a sincere look in his eyes. He had an intelligent look to him.
Blaze was a dark tanned man who had a fiery look in his eyes. The right side of his face was scarred and I believe I knew the reason. He was a pyromaniac. He wore a bronze lighter on a chain around his neck and his head was fully shaved.
Pointman had a cybernetic eye on his right with his remaining eye a green one. The eye that was cybernetic had a scar right across it. Probably why he lost it. He was the least built man of the four. His left arm was also cybernetic. One of the earlier models it appeared as it had a harder looking flesh to it. Like it was only painted on.
All four of them wore an olive tank top with dog tags, military green kakas and brown boots. On their right shoulder was the same tattoo. A small picture of an iron maiden and steel chains with the word, Torture, underneath. Then it occurred who they were. These were the renowned, Torture Squad. They were lead by a well-known soldier. Sargent Death. Emphasising on the last name, people called him the Reaper of the UNDF. Even the IFE knew about him. He was honoured by many and feared by all his enemies. But why were they assigned to me? I could imagine being placed on their squad temporarily until the mission was done. But these four soldiers were under my command.
“Hang on a second. You four are from an elite squad commanded by one of the UNDF’s best. Why are you suddenly placed under my command? Wouldn’t I be placed under the command of Sargent Death?”
There was a brief pause between us. Fisher stared blankly at the wall and even Blaze seemed to lose the fire in his eye. Suddenly I realised what must have happened.
“I see. But how? He was the best.”
“We were overrun.” Said Pointman. “Pinned our entire squad down. With tanks.”
Rock interrupted. “He gave his life, the sorry bastard. Took an entire pack of C4 with him and laid every one of those arsehole IFE tanks with it. He got shot to hell and there was nothing we could do. He made us stay under shelter and lay cover fire for him. And just…”
Rock froze, unable to finish off the rest of the sentence.
I decided to close the discussion and spoke as sincerely as possible, “a tragedy of war. He was an excellent man. I would have liked to meet him in person.”
“We better start getting ready.” Spoke Rock. “I have a feeling this missions going to be our last.”
Fisher came back from his trance. “Don’t say that. We’ll survive. You heard the General. John here knows just what to expect. He’ll keep us one step ahead of whatever’s down there.”
I’d have liked to agree, but that wasn’t possible. The mutants were unpredictable. And this was a polar climate. Their adaptation rate will have changed from what they would have back in the temperate climate of the Amazon.
“Yeah, your right. I’ll do my best to keep us one step ahead, and we’ll pull through. Now go on. Head off and start getting prepped. I know he said to be there half an hour early, but I want you all there an hour early. Be there at 1700 hours. I want to know that we are packing exactly what we need to take these sons of bitches to hell.”

* * *

It was now 12:30. I’d finished my lunch and was now grabbing what I’d need from my room for the mission. On the corner table by my bunk I found a letter. The letter given to me by the scientist. He asked me to deliver it for him, but that seemed pointless now. The laboratory was overrun and everyone there would be dead. But I picked it up and stuffed it in my pants pocket anyway.
The canteen of water was there also, so I filled it with water and put that in my chest pocket. That canteen was a good reminder of what happened down there. And though those memories were best forgotten. They would be needed as a reminder of the mutants’ capabilities, which would be necessary for our survival.
There was a knock on the door. I moved over to the speaker and held down the button.
“Who’s there?”
“It’s Dr. Timothy. I have something for you.”
I unlocked the door hatch and it opened up. Dr. Timothy walked through carrying a small metal case.
“Inside here is an improved version of the antidote we gave you for Chemical-M. There’s enough for you and the other four in your squad. You should only need it when attacked by an ‘infectious’. Otherwise they shouldn’t be too necessary. We’ve created a prototype vaccine from the antidote. It should help against some effects of the environment. The others have already been administered it. So everything should be fine for the mission now.”
“I guess your going to give me the vaccine as well then?”
“No. For you, there is no need. Due to your exposure to the mutagen and environment already, your body has significantly increased your immunity to such. But that doesn’t make you invisible. Your body can take the environment without feeling the effects, but you should still avoid any infectious mutants while down there.”
I always thought that my body had become stronger against the environment, but was never sure if it was enough to make me almost completely immune. But hearing it come from a scientist increased my confidence. But he wasn’t the most experienced, and hearing it from Natalie would have been even more reassuring.
“So should the others be given the antidote at any time while down there? While I was at the facility the scientist I met there that gave me some antidotes explained to me that they needed to be taken at least every four hours.”
“That is what the vaccine is for. The antidote should not be needed if they stay away from any infectious creatures or areas were Chemical-M is present in large amounts.”
“You seem pretty confident in this vaccine.”
“We are. Dr. Hays has confirmed that this vaccine is a direct improvement from the drinkable mixture contained in this case. And since it has been modified for injection into the blood stream, it will stop the blood from mutating in any way. Which seems to be one of the highest risks down there, and is directly linked to the rest of the body mutating.”
“Well, if Natalie feels confident, then I guess I’ll have to too.”
“Ok. Now, there is one more thing we need to do.”
The doctor pulled out a small metal instrument and asked me to place out my arm, which I cautiously did. He then rolled back the sleeve, gave it a rub down with a cotton bud with something on it. Then placed the device on my arm.
“This may sting a bit.”
He pressed a button and the instrument then pressed hard into my arm, causing a hot pain to flex right up. I clenched my teeth and cursed under my breath. Then he pulled it away and cleaned off the excess blood.
“What the hell was that!”
“That, was a special microchip imbedded just a centimetre under the flesh that will allow us to track your vital signs all the way from here.” He then pulled out a small hand-held device. “Keep this on you at all times. If it starts beeping, there is something wrong. Once you activate it while its doing that, it’ll show you straight away what the problem is, and if there is a safe way to fix it. We probably wont be able to contact you down there, so this will be crucial to your survival.”
I rubbed my arm and took the device, then stuffed it safely in my pants pocket.
“So I assume the others received the same treatment.”
“And many more. This is going to be compulsory soon enough. Maybe after we’ve made more modifications. They should prove extremely useful in future years to come.”
I looked at the digital clock on the wall. It was 12:50. I didn’t know where Natalie was, but I knew that she’d be back soon. I’d been wondering if I should tell her about the mission or not. It would worry her sick and she would not approve of it. But she couldn’t stop me, and I feared she would try and come with us. Since she knew a lot of what was going on, if she got to my father and explained her intentions to him, he would likely allow it. I did not want this to happen.
“Could you do me a favour? If you see Natalie, could you make up an excuse for where I am? Like being out on important business somewhere else. I don’t think she would take it well if she knew I was about to go back into the heart of hell.”
“What? Who do you think I am? I’m a scientist, not a messenger.”
“Ok, we’ll make a deal. If you make up an excuse for me so she doesn’t know. I’ll bring back some items from the facility that could help further your research.”
Dr. Timothy looked at me for a while. Scratching his forehead.
“Fine. But you better keep your end of the deal.”
“I will. Just hope I get out alive to give it to you.” I chuckled.
“That’s not really a laughing matter. Oh, is that the time. I better be going, I’ve got a meeting in ten minutes.”
“Remember not to tell her what I’m actually doing. Or there won’t be any souvenirs.”
He left the room in a hurry, and I stood up from the bed and followed. Not to follow, but to go to the hanger. I’d hang out there for the rest of the time and get what else I needed from there. I knew that lying to her was not the right thing to do. But I also knew it was the right choice. It was for her safety.

Chapter 19: Operation White Cleansing
The hanger was full of vehicles, such as trucks, jeeps, armoured vans, tanks and even some bikes. The roof was four stories above with slightly translucent plating to let some outside light in. All around was the noise of mechanics, engineers and techs working on what ever they were assigned to. Soldiers occasionally came in and out of the hanger in trucks after heading out from patrols. Sometimes the trucks would be mostly empty and full of wounded. And sometimes the truck wouldn’t come back at all and a helicopter or dropship would be heard taking off and then returning later.
I sat at the dropship. Cleaning down the weapons I’d be taking. I’d chosen to take a .22 SMG, a couple of shrapnel grenades, a standard issue V-4 Energy Pistol (which is a version 4 of a energy weapon that uses a re-chargeable battery pack to send discharges of heated energy at an enemy. Normally I’d take a 9mm or .40 revolver. But the pistol had a re-chargeable source of ammo. And though it would too run out at some point and had less efficiency against most targets. Ammo was going to be an issue). I also took a Heart-Stopper (a powerful rifle weapon that used the same renewable energy source as the pistol, but had a larger pack. The weapon could be fired at a constant rate for a minute before it overheated, and though the small energy projectile was slow, it had a secondary fire mode, which discharged an equivalent amount of force of that of a Desert Eagle. And when fired like this, burned its target until the energy dissipated). I also had 7 extra clips for the SMG. And since there was room left to fill, stuffed a pack of matches, two small torches, extra batteries, and a flare.
The others finally arrived at 5pm. Each carrying their chosen weapons;
Blaze had pack of flares, two 9mm’s, a shotgun, and (sticking to his name) a flame-thrower. Which seemed like a wise choice.
Pointman carried a 50-calibre sniper rifle, three grenades, a .40 revolver, and what looked like some C4 satchels. I wasn’t sure if the C4 would be necessary, nor if the .50 rifle was the best choice. But these guys were elite so what they chose was what they always did. And they used them well.
Fisher carried some small bags. One had a red cross. He was the field medic. I handed the case of antidotes to him to put in with the other supplies. He also carried two 9mm’s, a V-4 Energy Pistol, some flares, three torches and a frag grenade.
Rock had the wisest choice of them all. Carrying a similar set up to mine. He had a .33 SMG, a Heart Stopper, two shrapnel grenades, a flare, a torch, a Desert Eagle and a V-4 Energy Pistol. He was the first to say something.
“Well Lieutenant. We’re all here. Any words for us before we pack all our equipment on the ship and get ready to take off?”
“There isn’t anything I can say that would even remotely prepare you for what you are about to go up against while we are down there. If we are going to survive, then we are going to need to expect anything. These mutants can mutate into almost anything depending on their environment and what they are mutating from. And the super humans are the worst of them all. Plus we have no idea how many of them there are either.”
I stopped and looked at all their faces to see if any of them had even the slightest look of fear on them. But they were all focused on what I told them, and didn’t even look like anything would be able to shake them.
“Any of you afraid of what might be down there?” There were no answers. I gave a slightly evil smile. “After this, if you live, you will be.”

* * *

We left the base straight at 1800 hours. Heading off towards the place, which could mark the end of our lives. We were all quiet for the entire trip, until we finally reached the end. It took four and a half hours to reach our destination, and as soon as we touched down, everyone began murmuring and was thankful that they could finally stand up and get the hell out of ship.
The bitter cold bit at the uncovered parts of my face so I pulled my hood over my head more. This place was going to be a walk in the freezer. Not my idea of a good time. Blaze seemed the most annoyed and anxious to light up the flamethrower. He jerked about a complained and urged me to give the order to prep his weapon. But I denied it until we had unloaded and readied everything. We then established communication with a stronghold 5 miles from our position, and once we were done, we began to trek through the snow, northeast towards the village where the facility was.
The walk was almost 500 meters from where we were, and Blaze was pleased to hear the order to ready all weapons when we reached the village. The village was broken and torn apart. As it had been for many years since the IFE set up their base here. A slight stench of death wafted through the abandoned houses. Each minute, the smell would grow stronger as we came closer to the facility.
After 10 minutes of walking I held up my hand, a signal for everyone to stop. I pointed to Pointman and his .50 rifle and then pointed to the top of a collapsed structure. Then I pointed to Rock and Fisher and told them to move on ahead. Then I showed Blaze a way around, through a long building, and pointed for him to go through there with me. They all understood what I wanted them to do, and we moved out.
Blaze and me quickly moved into the building. It was dark so I lit up a flare to accompany the torch. I turned my head around and saw Rock and Fisher slowly walking along the snow-covered road. Pointman had reached the building and was keeping a clear eye on everything that was happening. We moved further into the building, and Blaze whispered to me.
“So what’s out there Lieutenant?”
“I don’t know. But it’s there. And it’s watching us.”
“I don’t mean to speak against your orders, but wouldn’t it be better if we stuck together in a fanned out position. And shouldn’t there be someone watching Pointman’s back?”
I knew I was new at this, and Blaze was right. We should be all together. But the enemy were smart, and they would get us. We needed to ambush the ambushers if we could, and I knew Pointman would be fine where he was. I had a sixth sense of what was happening. They would go for us while in here, which would leave less to attack Rock and Fisher. Pointman could then pick them off. And the building he was on was well protected. It only had two vulnerable points, and they were in his firing range.
“Don’t worry about it. I know what I’m doing.”
We moved on through the building. The only noise the crunch on snow on the floor. Then I heard it, a footstep that wasn’t ours. It was hidden. 7 meters from where we stood. Another 3 meters to our left. I whispered to Blaze, “Burn to your left.” He smiled enthusiastically. I took aim in front as soon as the flamethrower was lit up, the creatures screamed.
Blaze began to swear at the creature in front of him, sending a jet of flame into it. I spotted the creature in front as it began to move and, using the SMG, planted a successful 5 shots into its skull, causing it to drop. A loud gunshot sounded from outside, Pointman had begun to fire. I aimed out the window and spotted two targets on a roof. Four coming down the street occupied rock, Fisher and Pointman. I aimed and shot a clean burst off at the mutants on the roof, which then scattered away. One was hit in the side and tumbled back down. Pointman had seen what I shot at. Blaze pulled out his shotgun and pinned a mutant against a wall with gunfire. The last mutant that was charging towards Rock and Fisher turned around and was running away, screaming frantically as it only just avoided a hail of energy from Rock’s Heart Stopper. But it was inevitably shot down by Pointman’s 50 cal. The mutant that was on the roof, but avoided being shot had jumped out of the darkness, but wasn’t quick enough to avoid Fisher and his two 9mm’s. Each round hitting its head.
Blaze and me exited the building and re-grouped with Rock and Fisher. Pointman arrived just after us. There was no need for words. I signalled for an ammo check and they all said what they had left. We then continued to proceed towards the facility.
There were no more encounters. Though I could feel the presence of creatures watching us. Either they had no intentions of attacking, or they feared us. Either way was fortunate as it just left more ammo for the bigger targets. The C4 came in use with making for an easier entrance. The explosion lit up the night, illuminating the hollow buildings that surrounded. Fisher and Blaze readied their weapons as the shadows of moving creatures danced along with the temporary light source. I signalled to lower weapons. We were still safe so long as we didn’t make an attack on them first. We needed to avoid combat if possible. This wasn’t a normal battlefield. Our enemies weren’t like us and didn’t have intentions on attacking everything they came across that were an enemy. This was covert, and our enemies would attack if they felt it necessary. Otherwise they wouldn’t bother.
We entered through the new entrance. The wind was starting to pick up now, causing a dark chill to pass across. Upon entering, I knew this was going to be worse than before. Unlike last time, where I was ‘accidentally’ stranded inside the facility and didn’t know what was happening, this time I did know. But we were already too late to do anything. The lab back in the Amazon was no more. The area was quarantined and each day, the sightings of mutants decreased. Anything that was there wasn’t a problem anymore. But here, they had escaped, and each time you moved, the sense of looming death passed over you. This entire place was under mutant control.
The interior of the facility was dank and rotten. The stench of death wafted down the halls, it wasn’t putrid though. So at least there weren’t any pile of bodies anywhere, though who could be sure. Small flickering lights illuminated the dimly lit corridor. A good sign letting is know the power was still on.
I signalled to follow quietly down the corridor. We needed a way down to the heart of this place, or near enough, so we could nuke it. It occurred to me that I hadn’t seen any nukes. And hadn’t even prompted anyone to where they might be. So I asked. Rock nodded to Fisher and he placed down one of the bags he carried. He carefully took out a small device.
“This device here is our nuke. A secret weapon that appears small and insignificant, but packs a punch that’ll render a battalion of tanks inoperable.” Fisher smiled. “All we have to do is plant it, then get out of here before it blows. Once it does, it should be just enough to cause the entire structure to collapse on itself.”
“So it’s pretty much a nuclear implosion device?” I asked.
“I guess you could put it that way. It comes with a nifty name too. They nicknamed it, the ‘White Cleansing’. So you can really only imagine how pretty it’s going to look when it goes off.”
Fisher then carefully placed it back in his bag and hefted it over his shoulder.
I signalled to stop. We had reached an elevator. Blaze pushed the button and we waited for a minute. When the elevator arrived we gave second thoughts on finding another way. Inside were bodies, some unfortunate people who failed in their attempts to escape death. The roof had a massive tear in it and blood still dripped from it. We didn’t have much of a choice but to ride with the three deformed and bloodied corpses down as far we could go. Rock was acting as if there was nothing there. He was as stern and fixed on his mission as when we had left. Probably why he was nicknamed, ‘Rock’.
When we reached the bottom, we exited the elevator to be greeted by mutants. They stared at us as we aimed our weapons and cautiously exited the elevator with our backs against the wall. The mutants seemed to be dragging bodies around. Like they were harvesting them for later use. They were smart.
They snarled and glared at us. Showing whatever dangerous features they may have. Like claws, fangs, tails, etc. But out of the several that were in the room, one placed the fear in me. A large one with an armoured body. It stood on its hind legs, standing around the same height as me. It was human in some ways, but the face was like a hounds. The feet formed into what was almost like extra hands. Four finger like toes with an opposable thumb. Something about the mutant caused my senses to go nuts. But nothing would have prepared me for what would happen next.
“You have disturbed our harvest humans, and you have trespassed on our territory. This will not be tolerated. For this, you shall be killed.”
The mutant was talking. Not with any of my previous encounters had such happened. Were they evolving that fast? Perhaps they were, but it still didn’t explain the vibe I got from looking at it. This mutant was extra-ordinary. Could it be a super-human?
“Ready your weapons. Make that thing your main target. If you have any special weapons you’ve got hidden, now’s the time to use them. I think this thing might be a super human.”
Blaze lit up his flamethrower. “So this is one of these super-humans I’ve heard so much about?”
Pointman loaded his 50 cal. and his cybernetic eye glowed. Rock withdrew the Heart Stopper and cocked a grenade then held down the spring. Fisher took out both 9mm’s and aimed them at the mutants that were closest. I stood there. Keeping my eye transfixed on the super-human.
“So you’ve herd of the things that have gone down here. Interesting, very interesting. Your foolish attempts to kill my brothers and me will prove futile. You shall die.”
I sneered at the mutant. “We’re not here to kill you specifically. But we will be taking you to hell along with this place. And we will succeed this mission, so stand aside and make it easier on yourself.”
“So you intend on destroying this place along with everything inside. So be it. If you can get past my brothers and me you may do what you want with the place. But I warn you. Our sister is quite touchy when people invade our home.”
There was no more conversation now. The super-human pointed his crooked finger at us, and the seven mutants began their attack. Blaze began laughing. This was possibly the best fun he’d had in a while. We didn’t even have to fire upon them. Once the flames connected with them, they began wailing in pain and sprinted off in all directions. A few shots were fired from Fisher to finish them off, but that was the end. Pointman fired the 50 cal. At the super human, but even though the weapon had an extreme velocity, the creature dodged it almost gracefully.
“Using guns will be useless against me. Far too slow.”
The super human began to attack. Leaping side to side, dodging the following attacks sent out. I was the only one who hadn’t attacked yet. I was waiting for it to get closer to me. Then I would attack. If this mutant wanted to fight hand to hand, then I would too. It would not overpower me, no matter how fast it was. I was stronger and almost as fast.
As soon as it leaped over the flames from Blazes flamethrower, I moved into action. Leaping up against the wall, then using it to propel my self towards it, my arms out to stop it from getting closer and to force it backwards onto the ground. The super human didn’t expect such an attack and collided with me. Due to my extra force from pushing away against the wall, the creature was knocked back. We both tumbled against the floor, rolling around, struggling to gain the advantage.
“You are not like the others. You are not just a mere human, are you?”
“Your right. I’m not like the others. I’m your worst nightmare’s come true. And like the previous super humans before you, I shall kill you.”
The creature realised what I said, and the look of fear crossed its demented face. It seemed like it was trying not to believe it. But as it looked back into my eyes, it had no choice but to believe what I’d said.
“You’ve killed my brethren? You shall die for this!”
It was too late. The shock from hearing that a mere ‘human’ had killed such powerful creatures was enough to throw it off balance. My hand twisted around its arm and a loud snap followed. The creature began to scream as its second arm was dislocated and the hand broken. I kicked up off it, withdrawing my V-4 as I did. Aiming it at the head, and squeezing the trigger. A burst of concentrated energy collided with its hound like head, and that was the end.
I stood up, dusting myself off and holstering my weapon. The super-human wasn’t the only one that was shocked by any of this. The others still stood their Weapons at the ready, their faces confused and fearful.
“Your one of them.” Spoke Fisher.
I smiled. “Yeah. You’ve got a problem with that you can complain when we get back.”
No more was said. They continued to follow me, but they still kept their distance. They weren’t afraid. I could sense that, but they were not pleased. Now knowing that they were assigned to someone who had excelled past the status of a normal human. I didn’t care what they thought. I knew that I’d changed. And it did not matter.
I reflected upon the dream I had back when I had been unconscious. And the message the face in the puddle had given me.
“…You haven’t become the monster yet. And you can still stop it from happening. But you have to let go and move on. Or else it will kill you.”
Inside me was another mutant, waiting to get out. Metaphorically speaking. There wasn’t actually anything inside me. But according to the dream, if I continued the path I had once taken. Then I would become that monster and be killed. But I doubted that what would die, was going to be me, but someone else. I couldn’t allow this to happen. So my path in life had changed, and my attitude to anything that had happened was different. And ever since I moved over to this path, has everything become clearer.
We reached another large room. Inside were more corpses, but this time they were hanging from the roof. Dangling by wires and chains. It was a terrible sight to behold. These mutants were harvesting people, then leaving them out to dry before they were needed for food. It was disgusting. The sooner we nuked this place, the better. Suddenly mutants began to leap out from all directions. The door we came through closed and wouldn’t open. We had walked right into a trap.
The room had turned into a war zone. Bullets were firing off in all directions as mutants began to attack us. We had to run, we had to escape. We couldn’t hold out here.
“THROW YOUR GRENADES, WE’LL MAKE A BREAK FOR IT!” I ordered at the top of my lungs.
They all followed my order; tossing grenades in the direction they thought the most dangerous. We shielded our selves and waited a few seconds after the explosion to run away. We ran as fast as possible, mutants still pursuing us deeper into the facility. Then Pointman dropped. We turned around to see a similar looking mutant to the super human. I looked down at Pointman, a bullet size hole through his head. “Keep running!” There was no chance for us to grab his lifeless body, I tossed another grenade behind us as we exited through a door, and we ran away. Shooting at whatever we came across. Yelling curses at them as we did.
The mutants didn’t give up the pursuit, and we were tiring. Fisher then got hit, a claw scraping his back. Rock helped him up while Blaze blasted the mutant away with the shotgun. I fired ahead at the three mutants coming down the hallway, the SMG’s rounds piercing their fleshy skulls.
“Damn you all! Damn you all to hell!” Screamed Blaze.
Rock tried his best to maintain focus. He was trying not to be phased by what was happening. “Sir, we’ll be overrun if we don’t find somewhere secure to hide.”
“I know! Just keep running. We have to get away from the ones pursuing us first.”
We continued our escape, but we there was no hope of getting away. If only we still had Pointman with us. He could throw some C4 back and detonate it. Causing a cave in with the hallway behind us. Another tall mutant appeared in front. A super human.
“Why are you running away? You can’t escape.”
I fired the Heart Stopper, discharging a full burst with the secondary fire. The mutant had little room to dodge and had to leap up onto the roof. But the superheated energy still connected with its leg. Causing it to scream in pain.
“AH! Little bastards! You can run all you want, but you’ll only die tired!”
“I’ll sleep when I’m dead…” Blaze connected with a long pincer as he fired off back at the super-human. The pincer protruded through his stomach. Blaze coughed up blood and looked up at the spider like mutant. Chemical–M seemed to have been affecting bugs now. Causing an extreme growth in size.
Rock began to fire back at the spider, a full discharge of hot energy from the Heart Stopper tearing into its abdomen. But it wasn’t enough. The spider snarled and then hoisted itself back into the hole in the roof. The hole then lit up and a burst of explosive flame flooded out of the hole. Blaze had detonated a grenade, with a combination of the flamethrowers canister to increase the explosion damage.
Fisher was stunned and threw the empty clip of his gun at the super-human that crouched down, holding its leg and barking orders out at the mutants that were still following. I heard one of the orders clearly as we slipt back around another corner.
“Leave them for now. That’s dangerous territory. We’ll let her take care of them now.”

Chapter 20: The Diablo
We ran for another half hour before stopping and hiding inside a storage room. It didn’t seem like the best spot to hide, as there were vents as well as the main door for mutants to get through.
Fisher slammed his fist against the wall. Cursing the mutants and the deaths of his two closest friends. Pointman and Blaze. Rock sat down in the corner, taking a bandage and wrapping it around the wounds on his leg. Then he removed the metal case, the one with the antidotes.
“Fisher, come over here. We need to take these. Especially you. That mutant left a large mark on your back.”
Fisher walked over, squinting and twisting his face. He was furious at what had happened. He snatched the vial from Rock, drained the mixture and threw the vial hard against the wall. He then swore more at the mutants. Rock drank his antidote and then placed the empty vial back in the case.
“You need to take one of these, Lieutenant?”
“No. There’s no need for me to do that. I’m mostly immune to this environment and any effects it has. You should save them all for you.”
I tried to keep my cool. I didn’t want them to think that I had gone soft after seeing what had happened. But their dead faces etched back into my memory, and they couldn’t be taken away. It felt different to see them dead. I knew now what it was like to have soldiers under your command die. You couldn’t help but feel slightly responsible. They followed your orders, so everything they did that put them in danger was because of you. And every action they took with your orders was due to how you acted. I needed to stay strong and calm, so that Rock and Fisher could as well. This was not a place to let your emotions get to you. You couldn’t allow that, or else you would die.
“So how did you become one of them?” Rock asked.
I looked up at him and glared.
“Sorry. I didn’t mean any offence.”
I stopped glaring and put on a sorry look. “It’s no problem. There’s nothing wrong with wanting to know something. Curiosity is a way of life.”
“So, you’ll tell us then?”
“I don’t see any problem. I’ve only become what I am because of the exposure to the Chemical-M. The same stuff that made these mutants. It wasn’t direct. Its not like I had it injected straight into my blood stream. But a contagious one scratched me and I had contact with many other contagious mutants, and the environment was literally poisoned by the stuff, so that didn’t help.” I walked over to a crate and sat down on it. “A scientist I met down there explained to me that if I didn’t take the antidote at lest every four hours, I would eventually die from exposure. Or worse. I could have become a mutant. I don’t really know how all this scientific stuff works, but I think that a combination of exposure to the chemical, the mutants, and the antidote are what affected me, causing changes in strength, agility, mental and internal functions. I was told that my brainwaves had changed and that my heart rate was at a higher level. Which normally would be irregular, but it was a new normal for me. Somehow all this has happened without changing my physical appearance, or causing me to lose control over myself.” I remembered the times I fought mutants and lost all control over myself. Times where I didn’t even remember what I had done. “It’s not easy going through this. I would very much have preferred to be alone, in a nice warm bed, relaxing. But suddenly I’m back down in hells heart again. Not a very funny joke.”
Fisher stopped looking angry and turned to face me. He seemed to understand what I was saying.
“So you are no better than one of those mutants. Your just like them, except you haven’t mutated. I don’t trust you one bit. We should kill you, explode the bomb right here and then get out before it blows.” Fisher was looking angry again.
“Fisher, calm down. He’s not the reason for any of this. And as much as we can’t trust that he wont go full mutant on us, he’s our best chance of survival. He knows what he’s doing around these mutants. You saw how he tore apart that super-human without even getting a scratch on him.” Rock explained.
Fisher glared back at me, then looked back at Rock who kept a calm face. Fisher then turned back around and faced the wall. Banging his fist on it one more time.
“We’ll rest here for a while.” I said. “It’s 12:23. We’ll head off in half an hour.”

* * *

We moved out at 12:50. We managed to keep our presence hidden. But upon leaving the room a mutant spotted us. It limped away from us. It looked like it had been in a fight. It didn’t even care about us. One glance and it just kept on moving.
“What’s up with him?” Murmured Fisher.
There was something not right. Once again, the feeling of an ever-present danger loomed over me. Something was coming. A loud yell echoed from down the corridor behind us, and a mutant slammed into the wall, lifeless. A shadow could be seen against the wall. Its figure was large and bulky. Fisher and Rock readied their weapons and aimed down the corridor. Slowly backing further away.
The creature rounded the corner and faced us. It was fifteen meters away. But distance did not matter here. In a second it could be in front of us. This creature was human like, but its body was a dark maroon with a red highlights on the shoulders and forearms. Its face was demonic looking and the yellow eyes stood out well against the dark coloured face. Its eyes even looked like they would bulge out of its skull. It had an outstanding look of power to it.
“Stand back. We’ve just found another super-human.”
“A super-human. Looks more like the devil.” Remarked Rock.
“I don’t care how super it is! Die you son of a bitch!” Yelled Fisher.
Fisher began firing his 9mm at it, each round hitting the target perfectly in the temple. But the bullets did nothing. The creature just stood there. It looked like it was glued on the one expression of insane anger, a rush for pain and a need to destroy like none other I’d seen before. This super human had a extremely deep lusting for blood on its mind.
“Damn it Fisher, hold you fire!”
Fisher didn’t listen, and Rock had to restrain him. The last clip expelled from the guns and hit the floor, and as soon as it did, the super-human charged with unbelievable speed. I dropped a grenade and we all ran. The super-human moved over the grenade, and I quickly turned and shot at the grenade. A bullet hit sending the grenade into an explosion just under its feet, launching it forward. But it only managed to make it stumble for a few seconds. It was still in hot pursuit. The most frightening thing about it was that its face had remained the same still.
We zoomed around a corner, the super-human only seven meters behind now. Then another spider like mutant popped out of the roof. Rock narrowly missed being caught, and Fisher had to duck and cover. I managed to break off a leg as I hurtled past it. The super-human collided with it, but rather than stopping, it pushed itself right through the spiders abdomen, literally. The spider fell onto the floor, screeching. The surprise attack had at least slowed it down, and we had regained our distance. But it would not be enough. It etched closer ever second we ran. I was capable of keeping this up for longer, but Rock and Fisher were only human. They would eventually tire, and then there would be no saving them. I wouldn’t let that happen. Not again. Never!
“Keep running. Make your way to the main power room. That should make for a suitable target. Make sure you keep out of harms way. Detour if you need to! If I don’t get there an half an hour after you, set it off and get out!”
“Sir, what about you?”
“That’s an order!”
“Yes sir. Come on Fisher.”
I had the strength to fight this super-human. Whether or not I would win though was out of the question. The super human was close now. It was now or never. I pulled out my Heart Stopper and discharged a full burst, then tossed it away and pulled out the SMG and V-4 Energy Pistol. The Hot blast of energy from the Heart Stopper was enough to slow down its speed and burn a small wound in its stomach. The SMG round bounced off and the pistol had no effect. Only the bullets that entered the open wound did anything. Then it was upon me. Guns were useless at this range. It was now hand-to-hand.
The super-human overpowered me in seconds. And threw me into a wall, causing it to crack from the force. I cursed and stood back up, the super-human standing just in front. Then it grabbed me by the neck, lifted me up and threw me against the opposite wall. I coughed and rubbed my neck. Then spat out some blood. My forehead was bleeding and my arm had been dislocated. I quickly snapped it back into place, clenching my teeth. Then stood up and cracked my neck. Then I raised my fists in a boxing fashion and prepared to fight.
The super-human launched another attack. Launching a blow into my arms, which I crossed in front of me to block the attack. Then I moved my arms around it and grabbed its arm. Pulling it around me. I swung it against the wall then slammed my body against it as hard as possible. The attack hurt my arm. The body was tough, like steel. The super-human turned around. Its face had finally changed. Its eyes bulging out of its head, and it’s distorted face containing a look of extreme aggression. What Rock said was true. It wasn’t just another super-human. It was the devil himself in the form of this creature. This would possibly be my last fight.
“I think I’ll call you Diablo. You like that? Because I’m about to send you back down to the hell you came from!”
Diablo stared back and then launched a fist into my gut. Winding me. I collapsed down, clenching my gut and trying to breath. Cursing with the small breath I could muster. Then I forced myself to stand and launched my attack.
Diablo moved out of the way then tried to knee me in the face. I narrowly moved out of the way and punched Diablo in the face. Diablo stumbled back, but regained its posture and then tried to knee me again while thrusting itself towards me in an attempt to knock me over. But I was quick and moved out of the way. But moving this fast while injured hurt. Pain flushed throughout my body each time I moved to avoid an attack. And every time it hit, the pain increased. My body couldn’t take this for much longer. Something needed to be done to permanently destroy this thing. My mind raced for an answer, and what came up was the one grenade I had left.
I grabbed the grenade and pulled out the pin. Then wrestled Diablo to the ground, thrusting the fist with the grenade as deep into the wound as possible. Diablo kicked me off, which was fortunate in some ways. The grenade went off inside Diablo, tearing it apart internally. The explosion was contained enough to have little to no effect on me. But the gore was enough to cause me to vomit. Though that could have been because of the exertion of force I had used, and my body could no longer keep the food in.
After spitting out the remainder of my meal, I stood up. The Diablo had been defeated and would no longer cause any more problems. But now I had to find Rock and Fisher who could be anywhere at the moment. Possibly even dead! The sign on the wall, which told me that the main power room was this way, was the only reason I knew where we should meet up. Hopefully there were plenty more signs to tell me where to find them. And I’d need to do it quick. They would follow my orders and set the explosives, then get out with out me if I didn’t catch up with them. So I needed to get there quick. I’d already wasted 20 minutes, and needed to catch up now.
I spat once more and then ran down the corridor, hoping that I would find them still alive.

Chapter 21: Nuke, The only choice
After another 25 minutes running. I finally reached the main power room. Inside was a large, wide pillar that stretched high up into the roof that was five storied above and went down into a dark hole. Occasional sparks of electricity could be seen on the pillar. This must be what powered the whole facility. A perfect spot to detonate the bomb. I moved around for a while, trying to find the others. My small torch was not very effective in this room as it was too large. It would be good if there were a light switch that could be turned on. Then there was a voice.
“Hey, Lieutenant, up here. No, more to your left. Inside the control booth. I’m so glad you’re alive! I thought we were all going to die down here. Quick, use the elevator. I’m sending it down to you now.”
I moved over to an elevator, a small metal platform with a console and railings. It jerked and I had to grab the railings to not fall off. It slowly moved up about 5 floors. Giving a spectacular view of the pillar. When it stopped the hatch in the booth opened. Fisher stood there working on a console.
“Where’s Rock?”
Fisher stopped what he was doing and looked down at the floor.
“He’s dead. Came out of nowhere. Tore him in two before he could even do anything.”
“What! Did he encounter one of those spiders?”
“No. This was much bigger. And more powerful. I think it was another one of those super humans you’ve been talking about, or perhaps a the spiders mother. Speaking of which. What happened to that one that you fought with?”
“Lets just say it got a big stomach-ache.”
“O-k. That makes sense.”
“I shoved a grenade into its gut.”
“Oh. Well, anyway, I planted the nuke, its set to go off in about another 45 minutes. I think if we go through these blast doors we can get out through another elevator. At least, that’s what I can work out from this console.”
“Okay. So that’s all we need to do then. Get out of here and let the nuke finish the job. Grab your guns corporal, we’re moving out.”
“Yes sir.”
Fisher had changed since before. It still seemed like he hated me. But he had lost everything now. He was the only one left from the infamous Torture Squad. An unstoppable force once like a raging fire that had just burnt out. He seemed to be sterner now. Like he had gained control over his rage and become calmer. Was it something Rock had said? Or had the loss of his friends caused something to snap, and he just didn’t care anymore? For whatever reason, he was more focused now. That would help. Perhaps now he wouldn’t be so eager to shoot at something that wouldn’t attack unless you did.
Fisher finished up what he did then followed me through the door. There wasn’t anything on the other side. We only had 9mm’s now. Since I ditched my weapons during the fight with Diablo, I had been unarmed. Not suitable against everything down here. And it seemed that, from our experience with the super-humans, that they could operate machinery. Including weapons. Poor Pointman didn’t even have a chance. That super-human might have been a better shot than any of us. I hated the IFE more for this. I hate them and their stupid attempts to make the ultimate soldier. If I ever found out who was in charge of this, I would kill them, slowly, so that they could feel the same pain that everyone else did.
We reached the elevator after running for another 25 minutes. Time taken that would be needed to escape if this elevator couldn’t take us to ground level. Time we would need to get distance. Time we would need to fight any more mutants that blocked our path. The elevator came to a halt where we were and we boarded. Once more, a disfigured corpse sat inside. I looked at it. Thinking of the terror this person must have gone through. But I guess they deserve it for playing god. But this person may not have even known until it all happened. So I couldn’t say that.
I noticed the nametag, still slightly visible upon the blood stained clothes. ‘Dr. G. Varicose’. The name ringed a bell in my head, but why. Then I pulled out the letter I had the scientist gave me. The name on it was a Mr Varicose.
“Well would you look at that. I managed to deliver this to the right person after all.” I dropped the letter on the body. “Read it whenever you feel like it.”
“What’s that for?”
“Back when I was at the facility in the Amazon, a scientist asked me to deliver this letter. To think if I hadn’t been placed unconscious, perhaps I could have gotten this letter to this man explaining everything. This may never have happened. Well, you can’t turn back time.”
The elevator reached the top. It had taken us to the ground floor. We just needed to get out now and make contact with the HQ to pick us up. This was finally going to be over. We could finally be able to go home and rest. With around another 20 minutes left on the clock, there was plenty of time to reach the extraction zone.
“Well you did it Lieutenant. You said you’d try to get us out, and you managed it. You and me are still alive. Just too bad the others couldn’t have joined us.”
“Hey. Don’t dwell on the past. I’m sure they’re laughing it up right now, having a nice drink and relaxing. And when we get back, we’ll do the same. I’ll even pay.” I was trying to lighten the mood now the others were dead and we were almost out. There was no use being glum about the situation.
“You know. That sounds like a great idea.”

Chapter 22: Unavoidable
We contacted HQ once we left the building. A bitter wind stung at my wounds, but numbed them also, so I felt better. Fisher worked on his radio for a minute, trying to gain a signal. But nothing would work.
“There’s too much interference. We may need to get higher up.”
I looked around for a spot where there was the least obstruction. But the moon had fallen behind the clouds and the night was pitch black. The facility was tall enough. Perhaps we could get up on top of that. I looked down at my watch. The bomb was due to go off in around 13 minutes. Likely not enough time to get back in, up a bunch of stairs, then get back down and out of the way before it blew.
“We’ll need to keep moving. If we stay here too long, the nuke will catch us too. We’ll try making contact again once we’re safe.”
Fisher nodded in agreement and we headed off on what we assumed would be West. The wind was picking up so now not only did we have to get away, but we needed to find shelter too. If the wind picked up any more it could turn into a blizzard.
Another ten minutes passed by and it was getting windier, and the cold chill had become too much, Fisher began shivering uncontrollably. Not a good sign. It was getting desperate now. Another ten minutes out here and we could suffer from hypothermia.
“That’s it. I’m trying the radio again. We must be far enough fro the facility now.”
It was a long distance we had trekked and the village outskirts were possibly only another 100 meters away. The clouds shifted out of the way and moonlight streamed down. The old war torn buildings were more visible now and their silhouettes played against the moonlight and the darkness. I searched around. We were close to the end of town. Some small hills were in the distance with farms on them. One of the farmhouses might prove a suitable spot to wait out the blizzard. Or perhaps they had a cellar.
“… HQ can you read me? We need an evac unit now. Please respond.”
“…This is HQ… we can just… your signal is… where’s your location?”
“Tell them we are on the edge of the village. We’ll be heading to the farmhouses to shelter from the blizzard.”
“HQ, we are heading west towards some farmhouses on the edge of town. We are going to seek temporary shelter there, over.”
“… Roger that… will arrive in… repeat 0600 hours, over.”
“Ok. Evac will arrive in two hours. Lets head out to the farm before the blizzard…”
The ground began to shake rapidly. I looked at my watch. The nuke had finally detonated. We looked back towards the facility. It had erupted into a brilliant white light that illuminated the whole area. Then a tidal wave of collapsing ground headed our way.
“Holy shit! That’s one powerful nuke.” Remarked Fisher.
“Get moving! That nukes going to take us with it! The facility must stretch right under the village. The entire thing is collapsing under us!”
We ran as quickly as possible. It wasn’t easy to run when you were trudging through snow. The wave of collapsing ground was edging closer and closer. Once it was only 30 meters from where we were, pieces of the buildings caught in its wake flung forth like shrapnel. This was insanely dangerous!
“It’s getting closer. I don’t think we can escape it.”
Fisher was right. Was this the end? No! I wouldn’t let it. I grabbed Fisher and flung him onto my back, then sprinted off even faster.
“What the! Whoa! Careful damn it or you’ll kill both of us!”
I ignored him. There was nothing on my mind but to run. Fisher looked back behind us, and the collapsing ground, still in pursuit, but slowly growing smaller.
“I don’t believe it. You did it. It’s disappearing. You’ve actually done it.”
Once we were out of harms way I stopped running and knelt down so Fisher could hop off.
“You run like the devil you do. I’ve never seen anyone with such speed. But then again, you’re not just someone. You’re practically super-human.”
Fisher hopped off, and I grunted. “Sorry.” We both looked back at the devastation. The moon was bright enough to show us the massive crater created by the explosion. It was very impressive how such a small device could cause such damage.
“We must have hit a real sweet spot with that bomb, don’t cha’ agree?”
He was right. The pillar must have been connected to every part of the place. It probably even held up the place. Once it was taken down, everything else went with it. The wind had temporarily ceased after the explosion. But it had picked itself up again and was starting to hit us again.
“Come on. The farmhouse is just up this hill. We’ll find shelter there.”

* * *

We found shelter inside a cellar. It was well underground and the walls were built solid. It wasn’t too large, a space of around 10 by 15 meters. The cellar held various containers of food and wine, which we decided to try out.
“This isn’t too bad, is it? Plenty of food, nice wine, great shelter. It could be warmer, I wont deny that. But it’s probably better than any of the other places we could have found.”
Fisher’s mood had defiantly lifted and he was happily guzzling down bottles of wine. Trying each one out and seeing which ones he liked best.
“You never know. This might be the best spot for miles. But I’d rather be upstairs where there’s probably nice warm beds and a microwave so we can have some heated food.”
“Well then go up and grab something.”
I raised an eyebrow to him.
“Sorry sir.”
“Enough with the sir’s already.” I said, my voice loud above the wind. Fisher’s face was one of awe. “Whoa. I’m starting to sound like my father.”
I shook my head and headed up through the door to the stairwell leading to the interior of the house.
“Don’t let anything in unless I come to the door and say the word… Pineapple. Then you can let me in.”
“Yes sir… I mean. Okay John.”
I went up the stairs into the house. The wind blew through the house and snow made its way through the hole in the wall. The moon had gone back behind the clouds and my little torch was all that gave light. I didn’t bother going up to the second floor. Just stayed around the bottom, looking for whatever I could find that could be warm. I entered what seemed like the lounge room and was struck by the feeling of a dark presence again. Something cold and icy and yet it was familiar. What was it? I up-holstered my gun. Something was in this room.
“Show your self you pansy. Stop bloody hiding!”
There was no reply. Was I hallucinating? No, the feeling was there. Something was in here, and it was watching me. Then there was a cold demonic voice. The demented sound that I had heard long ago. It spoke clearly to me.
“So you’ve finally destroyed the facility. I must congratulate you on your spectacular efforts. You have really come far haven’t you?” Then it seemed to come closer, “You have been in a great fight. I can sense it. The blood stains of another. A super-human.”
“Where are you? Show yourself!”
“So demanding. Why would I want to show myself? I’m the one who’s had to track you all the way down to Siberia. All the way, following your every move from the laboratories in the place you called. The Amazon, am I correct?”
“What? You’re lying. How could you have followed me all the way from there?”
“Your blood. I can smell it from miles away. And the blood of my brethren that you have slain. Of course there were those who you had to destroy. Like that super-human I released outside for you.”
“What? That was you! Damn you! Show yourself!”
I fired the gun, unloading the full clip at everything in the direction of the voice. And once the clip was empty and it had been unloaded, my arms were grabbed and placed behind me. Strong hands kept them clasped and a quick hand came into the back of my neck. The hand grabbed a tendon on my neck and immobilised me stopping me be able to move.
“Like it. I’ve been studying the human anatomy. And this nerve here will stop you from being able to move once held in this way. And if you do move it will cause extreme pain to you lower half. So I suggest you stay still.”
There was no choice. I grumbled what words I could. Even talking hurt.
“So are you going to kill me? Or have you got other plans?”
“Now why would I want to kill you? At first I wanted to do so. But I’ve really come around lately. Killing you would be pointless. Instead I’m going to cause you permanent damage that can never be repaired by any doctor in the world.” It moved closer to my ear and whispered, “I’m going to tell you the truth. And there is nothing you can do to stop it.”

Chapter 23: The cold lie
I stood there with my arms behind my back, a look of terror upon my face. What was this creature talking about? What truth? What did it know? And why was it telling me? Why didn’t it confront me face-to-face and say it? Many questions buzzed through my mind, until the creature spoke again.
“For years this has been planned. A new future for humanity you might call it. Everything up to know has all happened for a reason. Destiny, or perhaps fate is the best described word here. I’ve found out a lot about this whole plot and the dark past it contains. It’s a real horrifying thing too, even for me to behold. So I can only just begin to imagine just how you’re going to feel. It will really do some emotional damage, a normal person might have restrained from telling you,” it moved in closer again, “every… single… detail.” Each word spaced by a few seconds so that they could each ring inside my ear first.
“Come on. You can’t… faze me.” I forced the words out.
“We’ll see. Back when you were a boy, you were orphaned after having lost your parents in an ever so tragic ‘accident’.” It was mocking me. “And you hated the orphanage and couldn’t be happier when your father adopted you.”
“How do you know all this? Where are you getting your information from? Who are… ARGHHH!”
It squeezed my arms more and dug its fist into my neck. Then returned to its normal grip.
“If you speak out again. I’ll cause you more pain than you need. Shut your mouth and listen.” I did so. “Good. Now where was I. Oh yes, your adopted father. Now don’t speak while I tell you this, just listen.”
The wind was picking up again and the cold chilled my bones. A rather unpleasant feeling for this kind of situation.
“Your father adopted you for a reason. He knew what had happened to you, and he knew you were perfect. That is why he chose you over all the others. He staged the entire thing, and his plans went exactly where he wanted them. You joining the army and all that were all his ideas.” He paused before speaking again. His voice more chilling. “Now here is the real shocking part. Your father, General Robertson Cross, is the leader of the IFE.”
These last words played in my mind. I bit down on my toung to stop myself from shouting again. Instead I kept my thought stop myself. Holding back all emotion. But I knew my face had distorted and was full of hate and aggression for the creature holding me back.
“But wait. There’s more!” The creature was enjoying this too much. “Your bastard father is the one who arranged for this. He is the one who started the whole experiment on the super-humans. He wanted to use his research to create a super human, but due to the present world he could not, so he was limited to himself. So to be able to make his research expand, he needed a war. So he set off the ICBM’s and created the IFE. And he has created you. You are his greatest achievement. You have proven his experiment to be successful. Go on. Let your rage through. Allow yourself to be consumed by the monster within. Your father has created all this. He is responsible for everything that has happened. All the death, all the pain, all the hate. It is because of him! And you are what he has to show off his success! And he isn’t stopping at you. The infection has begun to spread across the world. Soon creatures just like us will consume it. And he will rule as the most powerful of them all, and with you at his side.”
“You mean he’s one of them?”
“Good question. Yes, from what I have learned he is. And he is also the first. Chemical Mithridate isn’t a new element discovered deep under the earths crust. It’s a mixture made by him. He placed it in rock samples for it to be found. He’s actually quite a genius you know. He planned all this by himself, very creative. You’re lucky to have him as your mentor.”
The things I was being told were doing just what it said they would. It was torture; a heart stopping truth that attacked my very soul.
“You can stop it you know. You have the power inside you to kill your father. You have the power to stop him from completing his plans. You may even be able to save a lot of people out there from being killed. Or even worse, from becoming one of us, not that more company isn’t appreciated.”
“You’re asking me to kill my father.”
“Yes. And you will do it. For it is the only way to stop him from killing off all of humanity. But what do I care. I’m a mutant too. Born and bred inside a test tube. Yes, I was one of the first. In fact, I was one of the last too. But they tossed me away like a used tissue. So I got revenge, I released the mutants that, like me, weren’t killed, but were kept in cages. I helped release them, and together we rampaged the facility. But you killed them. You showed no remorse for any of them.”
“What? I don’t recall ever seeing you. Who the hell are you!”
“Allow me to refresh your memory. Back when you had your first encounter, and tried to run away from what was chasing you. You threw a grenade and killed three of my brothers. Then you shot my fourth brother. And if you hadn’t gotten through that door, you probably would have killed me too.”
Memories flooded back again. “That was you?”
“Right. We’ve come far haven’t we? Me from being a four legged mutant running around causing trouble, to a human like creature that knows more than it should. And you, from a mere human who didn’t even know what was happening, who’s ignorance towards the past was only equal to his eagerness to be like his father. And now you’re a super-human. So you are just like your father.”
“I am nothing like him! I would never do anything like what he has done.”
“Perhaps so, but its too late now. You’ve already done just what he wanted you to do, and you have no other choice but to kill him.”
“I wont do it! You’re asking the impossible.”
“It is not impossible! If I had the power, I’d do it myself and end this foolishness. But I am nothing like him. I would be killed in an instant! You are the only one who can get close enough to get him. Of course you could also not kill him and allow more innocent people to die for this pointless cause. You could always let Natalie die.”
That last sentence plagued me the most. Would Natalie cease to exist if I didn’t kill my father? What if this creature was just playing mind tricks on me? What if this was all a lie? But what if it was also the truth? The cold hard truth that now stung me in the heart.
“He’s going to finish off his plans and destroy Earth’s last hope. It’s up to you. You shall now decide the fate of your precious humanity. I’ll give you time to think about it then.”
The creature released its grip and moved away. I didn’t move, barely even breathing. My mind was out of focus and couldn’t quite grasp what had been heard.
“It’s getting rather cold now. You should grab those quilts lying on the floor there.”
And at that, the creature disappeared. Leaving not a trace of its presence. My breathing was still hard, but I had regained my self. My head hurt from what was said and couldn’t comprehend it all. Did my father really plan all this? Was I no more than a pawn in a game of chess? It was too much to grasp all at once. So after moving over and picking up the quilts I headed back down to the cellar and knocked twice. No answer. I knocked again, this time harder. Then, remembering that I’d told Fisher not to let anything in until unless the password was spoken, I gave the password.
“Pineapple.”
A second later and the door opened slowly with a gun poking through.
“Oh, it is you. Hey, you did find something.”
I gave him the quilts, taking only one then sitting in the corner and pulling it up to me.
“You look a little ill there. You like some food or something?”
I shook my head. “No, I’m fine.”
“You sure? You were up there a long time.”
“I’m fine damn it! Didn’t you hear me?”
Fisher didn’t speak another word and sat down in the corner with a can of corned beef. He pulled up his quilt, finished his meal and went to sleep.
He was lucky; he could sleep right now and not have to worry. But I could not. My mind wasn’t going to let me. My head hurt still and memories of everything happening up to now raced through my mind. I didn’t believe anything it had said, but what if it was all true? These thoughts came back and forth with memories. I decided that when I got back, I’d then ask my father myself. And find out the truth.

Chapter 24: Trust?
I awoke to the sound of jet engines above. Their high-pitched hum sounded through the walls. Forcing myself up with my, tired from lack of sleep because of my back hurting from an awkward position, and my thoughts which still hounded me. Fisher was waking up too. He had a bottle of wine spilt next to him, knocked over during his sleep.
“Wake up, Fisher. Our rides arrived. Come on, move it.”
I opened the door and hurried up the stairs. I burst out into the brilliant morning light. My watch said 6:09. The golden horizon looked beautiful against the snow capped peaks and lush forests. But the permanent scar left upon the land left a shocking impression of the creations of mankind. Fisher finally emerged from the house carrying a small box of wine with him.
“Souvenirs. Hope you don’t mind.”
I just laughed, waving my arms until the drop ship saw us and turned around to head our way. It landed with a wisp of snow dusting away from it. We ran over and hopped inside and it immediately took off. The dropship’s interior had a medic, a scientist and a few soldiers already inside. There was one face I recognised, and it wasn’t too pleased to see me.
“Ah. Hi Natalie.”
“When we get back, I’m going to kill you.”
“Looks like you’re not out of the trouble yet, hey John.” Snickered Fisher

* * *

When we arrived at the HQ, Natalie and me had to board another dropship that would head back to the base I started at. We were the only ones who were on the dropship apart from the pilot, and we didn’t say a word to each other for the four and a half hour trip back. Though I tried to say something, the words just couldn’t come out. We finally reached the base and disembarked the dropship. Natalie finally spoke to me, in a quiet and angry tone.
“Come. Now.”
I followed her through the base, all the way back to our room. What ever she was going to say, she wanted to do in private, and didn’t want interruptions. As soon as we entered she shoved me onto the bed and locked up the door. Then she jumped on me and she began to kiss me. Passionately.
“I was so worried you idiot. Why did you lie to me? I should break your neck.”
I had nothing to say. I was surprised by her actions. Her chosen words didn’t fit in with her angry voice and threats. Then she stopped and rested herself on my chest. Crying again.
“I don’t know why I even stick around with you. Your lucky I’m in love with you or else you wouldn’t be still alive. But I don’t really know anymore.”
“Natalie. I only lied because I didn’t want you to attempt to follow.”
“So you thought I would follow you if you told me the truth. Thinking that I would want to help out because I knew more about what was happening?”
“No.” I lied again before I could think. It was true. I did think she would follow and try to help out.
“Then why?”
“I just thought you would worry too much if I told you, that’s all. I didn’t want you to know just how much danger I was in.”
“That isn’t a liable enough excuse to lie to me. And it’s not just that, you got someone else to lie for you.”
“I thought you’d try to stop me if I told you in person.”
“You really are an idiot.” Natalie kissed me once more and sat up on the bed.
“I’m sorry if I worried you so much. But I worried even more about you. I didn’t know what you were going to do. You shocked me enough to find you on that dropship.”
“You worried more? You self centred bastard!”
“Hey, no need for name calling. I’m not trying to be self centred.” I sat up next to her and drew in a long breath before exhaling. “I’m sorry I lied to you, and got someone else to do it for me. But I was only doing it because I care about you. And I was hoping that you would believe the lie and not be worried.”
“And what would have happened if you didn’t come back? What then? Am I supposed to believe that you might have died in a freak board meeting accident?”
“Is that what he told you. Geeze, he’s a terrible liar.”
Natalie giggled. “Yeah, I guess he is. Hey don’t change the subject!”
“Look. Natalie. I need to see my father now. I’ve got an important matter to attend to.”
“Important. Like what? What’s so important that you can’t spend a little time with me? I missed not having you around. You’re the only person who seems to understand me.”
“I know. But this matter is more important,” I saw the look on her face and quickly extended my comment, “Not more important than you. But its is very important.”
“Okay then. Tell me what it is and I’ll decide if it’s important enough.”
I explained the whole instance and what was happening. I told her every detail, just like I had been. She was puzzled at first, but once she understood what was being said, she clasped her hands over her mouth, shocked like never before.
“Oh my god. John, is this really true?”
“I don’t know yet. That’s why I need to talk to my father about it. I have to find out right from him in person.”
Natalie stood up and paced to the other side of the room before turning to face me.
“Your father isn’t here at the moment. If he’s really trying to do this. Then he must have gone to the only place where humanity has a chance of survival.”
“Your joking right.”
“You said that he was going to destroy Earth’s last hope. Where better than that.”
“I have to get moving then. If it’s true then…”
Natalie walked over to me and placed her hand on my shoulder.
“I know this must be hard for you. So I’ll come to.”
“Natalie no.” I pushed my self up.
“Don’t try to stop me. You need all the support you can get.”
I looked into Natalie’s eyes. There was a sincere look to them. Something I hadn’t seen before. I kissed her lightly.
“Ok. You can come. But once things start going wrong. You run and don’t look back. I can’t even bare the thought of losing you.”
We then headed off to get the clearance needed. Being the son, it wasn’t too hard; but it seemed too easy as well. Like it was staged for me to go and confront him. Either way it didn’t matter. We were heading off to confront him once and for all. To find out if the truth was real. Or if it was just a lie thought up by a cruel mind that wanted revenge for the death of its family. This was going to be the toughest thing I would ever do, and I was full of nothing but fear and uncertainty. So much that I felt like I would cry from it.

Chapter 25: Orion
The shuttle ride to Orion was a first for me. As A child I’d always wanted to go up to Orion, to see what it was like and be able to look down upon Earth from high above. Due to restrictions and Orion’s laws, I wasn’t able to smuggle any weapon with me.
Orion had been dubbed a neutral planet for humanities refugees while Earth fought out its war. There was no military force allowed on it. Since the war, anyone who could not fight was sent there for his or her safety. So you can imagine how many wives would be up there with their children, waiting for the war to end so they could see their husbands.
Five years into the war, the UNDF claimed full control over it, and then created a defence force to protect it from those who thought it un-natural for the human race to be living in space. The defence force was named the Orion Defence Core, (ODC). At present, there are three hundred thousand lives living there in fear of being killed.
There were many IFE who hated Orion and all who chose to live on it. And for what ever reason they had, in 2301 a rogue IFE band launched four ballistic missiles at Orion. Fortunately three were stopped before they could do any serious harm. But the fourth one came within a close enough distance to destroy a small section of Orion. More than a thousand lives were cost and more would have followed if it weren’t for Orion’s own dooms day protocol.
The ‘Unfortunate Choice Protocol’, (UCP), was set up so that pieces of Orion could be dismantled. Two chunks of Orion were released before the destruction could reach any more of Orion. These large chunks took up all of Alpha sector and the majority of Beta. And left Zulu crippled past what capable repairs could be done during the war. Orion’s once massive, 2,000,100 by 1,100,000 mile structure, was shrunk to a 700,000 by 450,250 miles.
The rogue IFE group were executed for the violation of the peace treaty on may 3rd 2301. There was never another situation like this ever again. But it was enough to cause Orion’s population to drop dramatically, leaving only the three hundred thousand mentioned before.
Each year, on the 28/4, there is a five-minute silence for the lives that were lost. It is the only time of the year where the war temporarily ceases. A brief moment of total peace; another time to remember the destructive power of mankind.

* * *

The shuttle ride was slightly jerky, but over the years it had improved. It was a spectacular sight to behold upon breaching Earth’s atmosphere. Natalie peered out the window and appeared like a child seeing something new and interesting for the first time, full of innocence and curiosity. I peered back towards Earth, hoping to see what splendid view everyone had bragged about once before, about the blue orb in the endless sea of black. But it was not to be.
Looking back at Earth was not a blue orb anymore. Grey clouds swarmed overhead and most the pieces of land that could be seen were desolate and barren. The swirling grey clouds obscured the ocean, a sign for a thunderstorm perhaps? Or maybe it was just another bomb being detonated that caused it. It was a sad sight to behold. Our once beautiful world destroyed by a pointless war.
I wondered; what are we fighting for anyway? What is this war about? Everyone claims to be fighting for the side of good, to benefit their fellow man and to save their friends and loved ones from tyranny. But was that really true? It seemed more like we didn’t know what we were fighting for. We were just fighting a nameless battle for what we thought was right. But all we are doing is making things worse.
“John look. I can see Orion. It’s so beautiful.”
I moved over to the window. Orion was floating in the black with stars sparkling behind its massive hulk. The shuttle continued to move closer until the entire of Orion had blocked out the stars.
“Attention passengers, we are now entering Orion. Please be seated and prepare for landing, thankyou.”
The shuttle entered through an airlock. The interior of the hanger we landed in reminded me of the large pillar that was down in the Siberia. It was sparking every now and then and long power cables and pipes stretched on through the hanger. The shuttle stopped above a platform and some men in orange uniforms began waving, directing the shuttle during its landing. The shuttle came down and jerked about. A puff of steam sprayed out of where the landing legs were.
“Attention passengers, we have officially landed, you may now proceed to leaving through the nearest door. We hope you enjoyed your ride with ODC shuttle transport, please enjoy your stay on Orion.”
We left the shuttle via a ramp that had been extended from a platform. The ramp was five meters above the ground and extended over to a booth where a woman in a custodian uniform sat behind the window. We showed her our passports and she confirmed them on her computer.
“Would you please be able to tell where my father, Robertson Cross might be? It is very important that I meet with him.”
The woman looked back up at me, then at her computer. I believe she was making sure I was actually who I said I was. Then she forced a smile and told me where to find him.
We left off for Orion’s central hub. Or ‘Maxis’ as it is called. Maxis controlled every aspect of Orion, from maintaining orbit around Earth, to keeping life support systems online. Was he going to use Maxis to destroy Orion? I still didn’t want to believe it. We exited the hanger and entered into the massive city like structure of Orion.
It was like seeing Earth back to its normal state again. A large open space with a sky and clean towering buildings. Above, though, the large sky was an artificial one, probably holographic. But it was all-pleasant looking, not overcrowded. People calmly walked the streets, going into shops to buy food or sitting in a café for a nice hot coffee. There was a very little amount of men, just as I had thought. Most of the men were fighting back on Earth. Through the pleasantness was sorrow. The people acted happy, but deep down they were sad and afraid.
I refixed my mind of our agenda. We had to get to Maxis. It wasn’t hard to find since it was a large tall pillar that stretch right into the artificial sky. I did something I had only really seen in the movies and hailed a taxi. A yellowish car pulled up. It had no wheels, and simply floated on its own artificial gravity. I had seen this technology before, but only on tanks.
The man in the front was sitting down, but appeared connected to the car. It wasn’t a human, but a robotic AI.
“Where would you like to go?” Its voice was slightly human, but robotic all the same. Unnatural sounding.
I didn’t know how to respond. Was there a way of saying it? As I went to say something, Natalie interrupted.
“Please take us to Maxis.”
“Right away.”
The hover-car powered up and took off rather quickly. Heading in the direction of Maxis.
“You’ve done this before, haven’t you?”
Natalie smiled and shook her head. “Actually I just read the little board there.”
Sure enough, right in the middle of the front seat, was a sign explaining how to respond to this AI. I shook my head, smiling.
“I could have worked that out.”
“Right. I’m sure you would have.” Natalie giggled.

* * *

We arrived at Maxis. It didn’t take long. A special lane was made for transit vehicles, so the taxi was able to move along without interruptions.
“Please deposit 15 dollars.”
A small hatch opened up, and I removed the money from my wallet and placed it in the hatch. The hatch closed and a few seconds later a green light flicked and the doors unlocked.
“Thankyou for choosing ODC transport. Have a nice day.”
We exited the vehicle. “I don’t think I could ever get used to that.”
Natalie just laughed.
There were two guards outside the door. They were more AI’s.
“Please present identification.”
I removed my ID and showed it to the guards. Natalie did the same.
“ID recognised. Welcome 1st Lt. Johnson Cross.” Said my guard.
“ID recognised. Personal restricted from entering. Please present clearance to enter this building.”
Natalie removed the clearance we had received back on Earth. We had made sure that we had gotten everything we may need to get around on Orion.
“Clearance confirmed. Welcome, Dr. Natalie Hays.”
“This stuff is pretty annoying, don’t you agree, John?” She said as we entered the main door.
She was right. This was annoying. I preferred to be taking to another human than an AI. We walked over to the front desk. Once more, we needed to present our ID’s and clearance. But at least this time it was a human.
My father was in the main control tower. We would need to take the elevator to the top. A section of Orion that poked out so that it could overview everything it needed from space. The elevator music was terrible, but we had to endure it as we went up, according to the control panel, 210 floors. It took around four minutes. I wasn’t having much fun on Orion, and I felt like things were just going to get worse.
The elevator reached the top and we entered into a small room. There was another AI at the desk that prompted us once more to give it the ID and clearance needed to get through into the control room. As we did so, I reminded Natalie of our situation.
“Remember what I told you. If things start going wrong, you get out of here as fast as you can. Don’t wait for me. Just go.”
Natalie didn’t answer. She just looked back at me, concerned. But I didn’t want to pay attention to how concerned she was. I wanted her not to worry about me. I wanted her to leave and allow me to personally confront me father. But she wanted to stand by me, so I allowed her to do that. But my worst fears would likely be confirmed through this door. When the doors opened we entered cautiously, bracing ourselves for what would happen next.

Chapter 26: The final destiny
The control room was massive. It was a circular room in a bubble shape. Near the top were windows that revealed the stars above. There were some stairs that went up and around into the second floor of the room. Underneath this second floor were consoles and screens and various other things that kept a constant look on the functions of Orion. There wasn’t anyone at these consoles. In fact, there wasn’t anyone at all. This wasn’t right. There should have been heaps of people. It can’t be this easy to watch over Orion. Or was it all controlled by more AI’s and thus didn’t need human interaction. I hoped so.
We walked up the stairs on our right. Slowly making our way, looking around for any life. But we could still not see anyone. But as I made my way closer to the top, the form of a man emerged standing in front of a large console separate from the others. He was focused on what he did, and only glanced up once to look out at Earth.
The man heard us and turned around to reveal himself. My father. I didn’t know what to say. The very words I had wanted to use before had escaped my mind and no more could I speak. My father gave his crooked smile then opened his arms up.
“John. I am glad to see you. I expected you to come looking for me, but I’m rather surprised that you actually came here.”
Natalie hid behind me as we slowly walked closer. My father put down his arms and his face changed to a slightly more serious one, but he still kept his smile.
“Well. Is there anything you need to say?”
I swallowed hard and Natalie squeezed my arm. She was shaking slightly. I whispered to her.
“If you’re afraid then go wait outside for me.”
She released her grip and moved back a step. Then she stood up straight and kept her eyes on my father and me.
“There is something I need to ask you.”
My father looked a little puzzled, but seemed to understand what I was going to do. Even though he shouldn’t know what I was going to ask. He couldn’t know. How could he know? There was no way. I was going to ask the question, and he was going to laugh as if it were a joke. I stopped walking. Keeping my distance of four meters.
“Father. Did you plan this? Have you planned this all from the beginning?”
My father continued to look puzzled.
“Did you…” I couldn’t say it. My gut was turning. “Are you responsible for the start of this war? Are you the one who is responsible for unleashing a mutant race onto Earth? Are you really planning to destroy Orion? Earth’s one and only hope for survival?”
My father stared at me for a while.
“What are you talking about? Is this some sort of bad joke? Who told you all this?”
That was what I hoped for him to say. But it was not to be.
“So you’ve worked it all out have you? I thought you would find out eventually.”
“So it is true then. You staged this war so you could go along with your twisted experiments and then use it to shape the world into your own vision.”
“Yes. That is true.”
“And… you just used me as your puppet. You just used me as another one of your lab rats to see what the effects of your own creation could have.”
My father stared again. Then he smiled once more.
“I wouldn’t call you a lab rat exactly. But if that’s how you want to regard it as, then that’s your choice. I simply just wanted to make you stronger, and more powerful.”
“So that I could be your right hand man after you take over the world!” I had raised my voice and Natalie was hiding behind me again.
“I simply wanted to make my only son stronger…”
“I AM NOT YOUR SON!”
My father stopped smiling. Now he looked angry. He was losing his cool. I was shocked by my outburst too. The words left my mouth before I could even think.
“It doesn’t matter what you think, John. I am your legal father. I am the one who looked after you when you had nowhere to go. I gave you another chance at life.”
“SHUT UP! I don’t care anymore! You betrayed me and everyone else! You have caused all this! You have turned me into a monster!”
“Your not a monster. You’re a superior being, and you already were to begin with. That’s why I chose you. I knew you were different than the others. That’s why you haven’t mutated like all the others that went through the same thing.”
“Others? How long have you been doing this?”
“A very long time. Long enough to create a new species that will be unleashed upon the Earth to bring forth a new age and a stronger race. You are proof of what it can do. You are successful. And you’re not the only one. Your little girlfriend there was successful too. I didn’t plan on that. She didn’t undergo the same effects as you, but you might have noticed that she no longer needs glasses to see.”
“You bastard! I should kill you for what you have done.”
“Kill me? Don’t make me laugh. You can’t kill me. Not only am I stronger than you, you know that you can’t even bring yourself to kill me.”
“Then I’ll have you arrested. After I tell the commander this he’ll…”
“He’ll what John? What can he do? He’s dead now John. He can’t do anything!”
“What? He’s killed! You’re lying.”
“I have never lied to you, have I John.”
I had no reply to this. I wanted to say a time when he had lied, but in truth, he had not. He kept secrets, but I don’t think they count. He turned to face out towards the stars again.
“It was easy you know. Like breaking a toothpick.”
He wasn’t lying. I couldn’t bare it anymore. Without thinking I charged at him. My right fist ready to hit him as hard as possible. But just as my fist came to collide, his left hand came to intercept it and stopped it before it could hit.
“Trying to hit your father. You’ve come a long way. You’ve built up a lot of courage. It pains me to think that I will have to destroy such a beautiful creation.”
The wind was knocked out of me and I tumbled backwards into a console. Natalie gasped as I forced myself up, one hand grasping my gut. He had elbowed me hard. He walked over to me, looking down at me with his eyes wide open. I attempted to knee him, but he simply moved out of the way. Then he punched me in the gut again and slammed his elbow into my back. I fell onto the floor gasping for air, spitting out some blood as I tried to push myself up. But my father placed his foot on the shoulder of my back and forced me to stay down. I managed to look over on Natalie’s direction. Why hadn’t she run yet? Wasn’t this trouble enough? Then she did the most unexpected. She took out a pocketknife from her pocket and flicked it up. I tried to speak, but I could hardly breath.
“I am very disappointed at you John.” Natalie was edging closer. My father hadn’t seen her. He was too focused on me. “You could have ruled along side me over a new world of power and high prestige. But if you would rather die.” He dug his foot harder and my head began to fog up. I couldn’t breath. The world was fading out.
“What is this? You insolent fool!”
There was a scream. My eyes refocused. My father was no longer stepping on me. I pushed my self up more and looked around. My father stood over a woman who appeared unconscious.
I managed to breath out a word. “Natalie?”
“Ah, so your not dead.”
I forced myself to stand and looked over at Natalie. Was she dead? She couldn’t be. I looked at my father who was taking a small knife out of his neck. Blood seeped out where the wound was, but in seconds it healed, leaving only a small mark.
“Impressive how my evolution went. My body is able to heal itself in seconds.”
“…Natalie…”
“She’s unconscious now. But she won’t live for much longer. At least not without proper medical attention.”
I stood up tall, looking over at her lifeless body. She couldn’t die. I wouldn’t let it. I had to do something. But I knew my father would not let me. He wanted to make me suffer. I slumped forward, but managed to keep standing, and looked down at the cold hard floor. A rage building inside me like never before.
“How dare you.”
My father cracked his neck and looked at me. His eyes were fiery and yet cold and dark. My rage was building up to a boiling point where I couldn’t control it.
“How dare you hurt her.”
“So what if I did. What are you going to do about it?”
My mind went blank. Like it had before, but this time everything was clear. I had to kill my father. I had to seek revenge for Natalie. I had to stop him from succeeding no matter what it took.
“You will not get away with this.” I snapped my neck up to look straight into his eyes. I had a burning ambition boiling over into a loss of control. My mind was focused on two things now; saving Natalie from dying and stopping my father before he could kill everyone else.
I charged my father with an agility I never had. But he avoided my punch quickly still. He grabbed my arm a tossed me back again. Then he lunged forward, but he was no quicker than me now. Dodging his attack, I slammed my fist into his gut. He coughed out some air, but regained himself quickly. Then he launched off a powerful punch, one that missed, but when it hit the console behind me it broke it into a crumpled wreck. He kept one eye on my moves; he was going to match everything I made. My leg came forward to intercept his leg, and I followed through with my fist. My father grabbed hold of it and tried to twist it, so I kicked myself up and used his hand to swing around and kick him square across the face. He stumbled backwards and balanced himself on the broken console, then wiped some blood from his lip.
“So you can land a kick on me. But can you keep it up long enough to beat me?”
“I will never give up. I’ve got to make you pay for what you have done.”
I moved in for another attack. Swinging off punches, kicks, throws. But my father was able to counter every one, and when he made his attack, I could barely keep up.
“Give it up John. There’s no point on hating me for what has already happened.”
“You started a war that took what peace we all had and shredded it.”
“So what if I did. Humanity would destroy itself anyway. Humans are not supposed to live in a world like that. So many people have died, but at least they are doing the killing again. Not just letting them selves die. I’ve kept humanity going.”
My real father had said a similar thing once. Back when he killed my mother then committed suicide after it. He spoke the truth.
My loss of attention caused a fist to collide with my jaw and send me backwards again. I rubbed it and relocated it.
“You lost you’re attention there, John. If you are so determined to stop me, then you cannot let anything cloud your mind. Now come, give me your best shot.”
I yelled and charged again. I had to stop him. But he still continued to block every attack I threw at him, and every time I landed a hit, he didn’t even budge, as if it were no more than a tap.
“I don’t think your friend there has much more time left. Too bad. She had a lot of faith in you. She sacrificed herself in a foolish attempt to stop me from finishing you off. And this is how you repay her? By not giving it your all? This really is pathetic.”
“SHUT UP!”
I moved in for another attack, swinging my leg around for a faint attack. He moved to block it, but was hit by my fist. I followed through with the kick and scored a direct hit in his ribs. But it still did nothing. He simply smiled.
“Nice hit. But you still have to do better.”
Once more I came at him, trying to get around his defences and score a direct hit that would knock him out. But nothing was working. Every time I made a move, he would block, counter and then knock me away with one move.
My rage had gone further than ever, making me lose control. A sharp pain stabbed at my heart. But I hadn’t been hit. The pain got bigger and threatened to consume me. What was happening? Had an old wound opened up? Did I really get hit that hard? The pain resided then came back even worse, but this time through out my entire body. I wanted to yell in pain, but could not. Something else was controlling me now.
The pain had now gone, and my mind was in a dark pit. Without even thinking about it my body moved into action. But running on all fours. I looked at my father who was rather curious at my new way of attacking. I tried to pull back and kick him, but instead went to punch him. I looked at my hands. They were bulging, or at least looked like they were. My father blocked the fist and deflected it, then tried to kick me. I wanted to block the kick and counter it. But instead, my body flipped over the leg and used it to kick off. I landed on the window and kicked off it, thrusting myself towards him. He was shocked now. I continued to try and regain control over my actions, but all I could do was watch as my body responded on its own. As if it was controlled by something else.
“This is impressive John. You’re actually fighting now.”
I wasn’t fighting, my body was. It moved on its own accord. What was happening to me? Then I sensed it, a presence in the back of my mind, a presence that was now controlling my body.
“What are you? Get out of my body!”
“This is my body also, John.”
“What? This isn’t your body, its mine. Now get out!”
The presence didn’t leave, instead it continued to make my body move around and attack my father.
“Get out!”
“Do you want to save Natalie or not!”
My mind froze. I watched my father try to fight back against me again. But he was slowly being overpowered.
“Listen John. I cannot leave this body, because this is my body.”
“What? But how can that be?”
“Are you really that ignorant? I am you John. I am the monster inside you, the creature inside your soul that gives you super-human strength when you need it. And now I’m taking control of this body so that you survive.”
“I was told to not let you take control over me. A dream told me that.”
“You didn’t understand it did you? The dream you had didn’t tell you to not to let me control you. It said not to allow yourself to become another monster.”
I understood it now. I was no longer confused. My eyes had now been opened to my true self. I realised everything I could do, and knew just what needed to be done with it. I realised my destiny.

* * *

My father was begging to sweat now. I was slowly defeating him, well, at least the other me. My father then lost balance and was knocked back with a strong shove. He hit a console and slumped down. He was beaten.
“You’ve done well, my son.” He spoke before coughing up blood.
“I am not your son.”
“Say what you want, you are my son. I am the one who raised you.”
I looked down at him. Then I noticed that my other self snatched the gun from his holster. Why hadn’t he used it on me?
“Smart move. Well, go on. Finish me.
“Its your decision now…” My mind flooded back and I felt like I was in control again.
“What are you waiting for? Shoot! Do it know before I get back up and use that gun against you.”
I didn’t want to do it. Shooting at my father when he was no longer able to fight back. Even if he was going to destroy everything, I couldn’t do it.
“Come on John. What are you afraid of?”
“I will do it! You’ll see.”
My father smiled. But this time it wasn’t his usual crooked smile. It was a real smile. A nice smile.
“I know you’ll pull the trigger John. I always thought I’d end like this.” My father pointed over towards a bench with a single sheet of paper on it.
“That paper explains everything, and proclaims you as the Commander’s successor.” He coughed up blood. “You’ve made me proud John.”
I looked back at my father. He wasn’t going to do anything now. He was just another soldier in a dark, cold world. Fighting a meaningless war.
“SHOOT JOHN! Or else I’ll come after you! And I’ll have to KILL you!”
Tears streamed down my cheek as I aimed the gun at my father and began to squeeze the trigger. And between the instant of the bullet firing, and my father dying, I remembered what an old friend I knew back in university had said. That in this world there was a song for every possible situation. And just before he died, I wondered. Was there a song out there for this?

Chapter 27: End.
I carried Natalie out of the tower. It was over. Fortunately Natalie had woken up. She was only in a temporary sleep. Had my father planned this too? I didn’t know.
I looked at the document that my father had left. The one proclaiming me as the new Commander of the UNDF. But that was all over now. The UNDF had fallen, and so had the IFE. All that was left to be done was to rebuild humanity. But could that be done now? Earth was going to be overrun by a creation of my father. Was there really anything that could be done? I didn’t think so.
“You did what had to be done John. You did well.”
I looked at Natalie and she stared back sincerely. I held her hand as we hopped inside another taxi to take us back to the hanger. We would need to inform high command that the UNDF had fallen and the IFE was no more.
My father had left some more sheets too, a folder explaining everything that had happened. It was all that he could do to make sure that I could continue to follow my dreams. But now to do that, I had to rescue humanity. Or at least what I could.
“So what do you think Natalie? This place is pretty big. We should be able to fit a lot of people here until we can fix up Earth.”
“I doubt that. Orion has enough space for maybe another ten thousand people, but no more. It’ll be much too overcrowded.”
“So you think we should build a new city back on Earth and then keep Orion in orbit where it is?”
“You know. That sounds like a great idea. You’ll make a great leader yet.”
She leaned against me and I stroked her hair. Wondering how this was all going to work out. There was hope for the human race, and I was in control of that. And I would do whatever it takes to achieve that goal.
The taxi sped off down the highway, a large orange sky above; like a sign of new things to come. But in my head I knew that it wasn’t over yet. The creature that told me all about this and revealed the horrible truth was still out there. And deep down, I knew that I hadn’t seen the last of it.

Epilogue
I walked through the large red doors and upon the podium. Two guards stood a meter away from me, their brilliant reddish, green armour gleaming in the low light of the podium. I couldn’t see anything down the bottom. The podium was suspended around 20 meters above the floor below and the lights were aimed at me, blocking out my total view. But I knew that the room below was full, and they all watched and listened, eager for what was about to be said.
“My fellow brothers and sisters. For years now we have worked to build a society, one equal to that of the humans. We are no longer their inferiors. We are their equals.”
The room erupted with cheers and I had to lower my hand to show them to quiet down.
“It has been three years now. Three long years. I remember the days when we were forced to fight to survive. But that is no longer true. We have built a fully functionally society and now rule over our own kingdom. But it wont stay that way for long if we don’t do something now. The ‘humans’.”
The crowd booed at this and I had to ask them to be quiet.
“The humans are a threat to us. But our armies are ready, and they continue to grow as we enlist more troops from other tribes. We have built outstanding technology to combat theirs and are ready to conquer their race. We shall take over this world by force and make it our own.”
The room erupted with loud cheering and yelling. This time I had to yell to make them calm down.
“Wait until I finish!” I paused for a moment to make sure there weren’t any more outbursts. “Good. Now our armies are preparing to march. The flower of our victory is now beginning to bloom. The human’s will not expect this, and they will not be ready for us. In one week, we shall launch an all out attack on them. Once we gain a foothold for ourselves we shall progress with the second stage of our plan, a glorious plan that will take the courage and will of everyone to complete it. But I have faith in you. I trust that you will not fail. Now go forth, prepare yourselves for war, as the New Earth Republic becomes the rulers of Earth!”
The room was silent and I stopped holding up my arms.
“Now you can cheer.”
The room erupted with cheering and yells; there were even some roars that could be heard. The lights on the podium switched off, and the large room returned to its normal lighting. And I left the loud crowd of mutants of all shape and size; a new species, a new race, a new threat to humanity.

END

“In this world there are those who will fight for what they believe in no matter what, and become hero’s. But only those who fight for what they believe in, even if they should die, become the true hero’s.”
-Shea Meadth

Experiment
EARTH

Prologue

The man ran as fast as his legs would take him, the cries of creatures echoing from behind him. They were catching up. It wasn’t easy to make your escape when you had to shove your way through thick brush. Even after the war had torn apart most the rainforest, the Amazon remained a dangerous place.
“Damn them! How could those, freaks, ambush us like that? Sneaky bastards! I must get back to base now. AH SHIT!”
The man stumbled and tripped over into the mud. He wiped the mud from his face and stood up again, then began to run once more. But it was too late now. A large beetle like creature emerged in front of him. It measured up in size to the man, but packed a bite that could cut through trees. All it needed to do was get him within its large pincers.
“DAMN YOU!”
The man withdrew his Desert Eagle and placed a full clip into the creature, enough to finish it off permanently. Loud noises from more of the same insect like creatures were coming closer. He had to escape. The base was only another mile away.
He ran for another minute, the sounds still coming closer.
“Geeze, these bastards don’t give up do they?”
The man then hit a wall.
“Ouch. That didn’t tickle. Hey, what’s this? A wall? There’s a door there. I’ll try and hide. Ha, ha, I’d like to see them get me now.”
He went through the door, and then followed the steps deep down until he finally reached the bottom. He was curious of what this place was. It looked new, but how could that be? It looked like a bunker, but it lead into a long corridor that stretched both ways. Where was he? Then he heard movement and he hid behind a pile of crates.
Peeping through the small gap, he saw two tall looking creatures wearing a yellow and gold uniform. Their faces were hidden behind large, medieval style helmets. But something about them, though they looked human, was unnatural. He decided to follow them.
After waiting a few seconds for the creatures to go through the door. He slowly entered the room, slowly opening the door so he could check that it was clear. The two creatures he had followed were heading down some stairs into an even larger room. But there was a balcony and he couldn’t see from where he was, so the man moved over to the ledge to look over, and what he saw would give him the biggest shock of his life.
Down below were heaps of mutants. Human looking ones, but they each had a different look to them; like abnormally bulky arms and weird skin tones and hair. Just the usual things to expect from these species of mutant. But they were different. They all wore white lab coats and worked hard on what appeared to be weapons. What was all this? Looking further on the man spotted another shock. Five rows of mutants in the same yellow and green uniform marched back and forth, a single creature in red and green uniform shouting at them.
Another shock was that they spoke English. They understood our language! How were they able to do so? There had not been any recordings that he had heard have that talked about talking mutants. And this looked like a whole new civilization, but it also looked like there was an army down here. But how big was it? This had to be reported back at base. But what if they didn’t believe him? He needed evidence, but how to get it.
The man pulled out his phone. It had an inbuilt camera. All he needed was photos of what was happening. He aimed it down at the mutants working on the devices and took three photos. Then he zoomed in more and took a photo of the marching mutants, which were now exiting through a larger door. Suddenly the two he had tailed came up the stairs.
“I hear that the attacks will be launched soon.” Said the one on the right.
“It’s supposed to be the most important operation ever… HEY! A HUMAN! Quick! Lets get him!”
The man was quick and he exited the room and headed up the stairs. But the two were keeping up and gaining on him. He un-holstered his gun and fired. Placing three powerful round into the closet one. Then finishing off the second, which had begun to fire at him with a powerful energy weapon. He quickly went over to the corpses and took the gun. Then he noticed the insignia on the side of the uniform and ripped it off.
“This should be enough proof. But what the hell are the NER?”
He emerged back into the jungle. The bugs that had chased him were gone now, so he could easily make his way back to base, to report the shocking things he had found.

Chapter 1: EUDF
John sat at the end of the long table conversing with his generals on the present state of the remainder of humanity. The three generals that sat with him in the meeting room was General F Davison, a veteran from the previous UNDF (United Nations Defence Force). General P Gala, who was promoted by John after his well-known attempts to rescue civilians from mutant infested areas that had no hope left. And then there was General S Sanders, a very valued soldier who was formally a respected IFE (Iron Fist of Earth) general, but after he stopped a fight between UNDF and IFE soldiers, he pledged allegiance to the EUDF, or Earth United Defence Federation.
“So what are we going to do about the infestation of Carpentaria? UNDF and IFE soldiers still fight the war there. Is there nothing we can do to stop them before they are swarmed by mutants?” Asked General Gala.
John massaged his temple and sighed. He had been working none stop for the last four days. “We are going to have to leave them. The UNDF and IFE don’t want any of our help. We’ll just have to keep a close eye on them and hope they come around to their senses so they can be pulled out before they all get killed.”
Carpentaria wasn’t the only place where UNDF and IFE kept on fighting for a war that had ended three years ago. There were those who accepted that the war was over and enjoyed the peace they finally had. But there were those who didn’t accept it, those who had no intentions on allowing the enemy to survive and ignored the end of the war. Fighting onward for a cause that no longer existed. Then there were the rebels who chose to end the fighting, but thought that the EUDF was corrupt and would only cause more trouble. If only they could realize the real truth.
After the war, John, with the confirmation of high command, took over the UNDF. Then he proceeded with signing a peace treaty with IFE officials, which was supposed to end the war. He then proclaimed the UNDF, the EUDF. But as said, there were those who did not want to accept it, and still held onto the previous war. But it was drawing to a close now.
The capital of the EUDF, Harmonia (Latin for Harmony), was the first new city to be built on Earth after the war. It spanned in size, almost equal to that of Orion, which kept a constant Orbit above the capital. The capital is also the only location where there are shuttle launch pads to get to Orion.
General Sanders stood up. Not happy with John’s decision. “We can’t just leave them there. Sure there are other war zones that we haven’t been able to help. But this is different. They are going to be overrun with mutants in the next three days. And it’s not only soldiers there. There are civilians too. Are you just going to let them die?”
“Don’t you think I know that already?!” John was angry and glared at the General. “I am doing everything I can to stop them from fighting. But they will not listen, they are too determined to wipe each other out!”
“There has to be a way to save them.”
John breathed in deep, adjusted his seat, and then exhaled. His voice was calmer now. “Keep rescue craft as close to them as you can without being shot at or being caught in the mutants path. When they need help, they’ll have no choice but to do what we want.”
General Gala cleared his throat and then spoke. “Can’t we at least try and stop the mutants before they reach them?”
“We cannot. Our forces are overextended all ready and are having to deal with mutants, rebels, UNDF and IFE soldiers. We don’t have enough to hold off that species.”
The species of mutants that charged towards Carpentaria were an elephant like species. Their tough armoured hides could withstand a 50 calibre round. And their height and weight made them capable of trampling an entire legion. They tended to swarm from place to place. Stopping to breed and gather food.
In the world today, the mutants are broken into categories. The largest population being the insectoid, which are made through mutated insects, and even spiders. But spiders are separately classified as Arachnids still. But they remain in the same category.
The most dangerous are the Carnivorous Mutants. Obviously because they feed only on meat, but mostly because they developed high speed for their main advantage, following through with claws to bring down prey.
There are the herbivore species, which are an evolution of what ever feeds on plants. And some even prove to make decent pets.
The humanoid, which are evolution from human DNA. They are generally one of the smartest, but not the most deadly. Some humanoids live in tribes. They are left alone and only attacked when they pose a threat. There had been only one case of this happening where a band of humanoids attacked and took over a village. They then stole and used anything they could find there. Even weapons. They were inevitably dealt with by a roving band of rebels.
There are no recordings of actually species of mutant fish, birds, or reptiles. Though there have been sightings that appear to be one of these. But there have not been enough to make any new classification
Finally there are the tree main categories. The Infectious. Which can infect others with the mutagen, Chemical-M, just by coming in small contact. The semi-contagious, which can only infect through direct contact, like a bite. Luckily, there is few of either of these left. Then there is the Stable. Which cannot infect anything. They are fully completed mutants. And are how a new species comes to be since by this stage they can generally re-produce.
“I think we should close this discussion for now. It’s been a long day and I need some time alone to think.”
“But sir,” Began general Sanders.
“The discussion is closed. There will be another meeting tomorrow at 1100 hours.”
The Generals saluted and John returned it. Then they leaved.
John continued to sit in his chair, massaging his temples. He reached over for his mug and sipped at the cold coffee. Running the EUDF was getting harder each day. Back when it just began, three years ago, things ran so much more smoothly. But now things were getting out of hand. He stood up and prepared to leave when a man burst through the door carrying a folder and a large case. He awkwardly saluted.
“Sir, we just received this…” He panted for a while, “This intel from Scandid HQ.”
John took the folder, slightly puzzled. He read through the pages, his expression increasing in shock as he looked through more pages.
“This can’t be true! Where did this all come from?”
“There more sir… Photos at the back.”
John flipped through to the back and took at the photos. He then dropped the folder, looking through the photos in shock.
“There’s more…”
The soldier opened up the case and took out what was inside to show John.
“What is this?”
“It is a weapon, sir.”
“I know that. I was speaking out of shock and amazement.”
“Sorry sir.”
John held the weapon in his hand. It was small and resembled the shape of a Desert Eagle and a Revolver combined. Inside was a small blue object. John examined it more closely.
“Its an energy weapon. But it’s so more advanced than our V5-Energy Pistol’s. Where did you say it came from?”
“Scandid HQ.”
“Scandid? Our stronghold in the Amazon. What the hell is something like this doing there? And what are those in the photos?”
John placed down the weapon and paced back and forth.
“I want whoever discovered this to be here right now. Well, don’t just stand there, get moving. I want to see who found this now!”
The soldier stumbled out of the room leaving John alone to think. Something bad was going on. This didn’t look like anything he’d seen before. And though the images were hard to make out, the things in them were not human. Something was happening, and it wasn’t good.

Chapter 2: Examination
The next day, at 1000 hours, a meeting was held on the new subject. The three Generals from yesterday were there. Sitting calmly in their seat, talking to each other. There were also some other soldiers and two officials. Through the back door to the meeting room, John arranged the files he had. Then looked more closely at the weapon. He had given it to some scientist to examine.
The weapon used an energy cell, which was the blue cartridge, to power it up. It was more advanced than the energy pistol’s that were used, and the power cell was more efficient than the Heart Stoppers.
The scientists also examined the photos more closely. Enlarging pieces of them to make for a better image. John had arranged these into a slide show and began setting it up on the projector. Then he left the room carrying the folder and projector onto the room.
Upon entering, the soldiers began to salute, but John intervened and told them to be at ease. He didn’t care for any formal stuff right now, just the present matter. He placed the projector on the table and set it up. The lights in the room dimmed and the projector switched on. John removed an extendable rod and began pointing at the images.
The room was in awe and shock. But they kept quiet as John began to explain what was happening.
“What you see here is supposed to be, what our scientists believe, a humanoid race that has evolved to be…”
John was interrupted by a woman coming in through the door. She was slender and beautiful, fixing up her hair as she came in, apologized, then sat down. Her eyes skimmed around the room, then met Johns. Natalie had developed a way of making people not angry with her just by making eye contact. But this did not affect John. Two and a half years of marriage had made him invulnerable to her tricks.
John shook his head slightly and muttered something that sounded like, “always having to make yourself look good,” or, “never on time.” John refocused on what he was doing and began to talk again.
“As I was saying,” He began temporarily staring at Natalie in a disapproving way that made her shrug in embarrassment. “Our scientist have examined these photos and believe the humanoids in them to be a new race. One that has developed a high enough intelligence to make their own weapons.” John took out the weapon and gave it to be passed around and examined. “That weapon was obtained by a lone soldier from Scandid HQ, who is also responsible for taking these photos.”
John then gestured to the man in the corner of the room to stand up. The man was unshaved and wore a slightly torn jacket. He was well built, and had a small scar on his forehead. His hair was brown and cut short. John asked him to come over and explain to the room what he had uncovered.
“This is Corporal J Jacob.” John then sat down.
Jason straightened himself and began to speak. “While down there, I found what looks like an army of these humanoids. I don’t really know how large it is, he clicked through the images until he found the one he wanted, “This was all I saw of a present army. They seem well organized just like any army, and seem to be preparing an attack.”
“What accusations do you have to support this presumed attack?” Asked General Gala.
The man thought back, “I overheard two mutants talking about a attack. But I all I heard was that they were going to launch it soon. They spotted me at that point and I didn’t hear any thing else since I had to escape.”
“Is there anything else you can tell us?” Asked one of the officials.
“No. I was only able to oversee that small section before I was found. I thought it wise not to proceed to far so I wouldn’t be caught. I made getting what I had my top priority. But obtaining that weapon was sheer luck as I had to kill the two that followed me.”
The officials continued to write down what they heard, and some quiet talking went on between two of the generals.
“There is this too.” The soldier pulled out the insignia he had taken from the mutant. “I ripped this off one of their uniforms. I don’t know what the NER are. But it seems like this is defiantly a larger threat than we may think.”
The insignia was passed around the room, each person examining it and wondering what it meant. They all looked puzzled. No one knew what it stood for. Then it reached John. He looked at the insignia carefully. Then read out what he thought the initials were.
“The E will be for Earth. I’m not sure what the N is for. Which means the R could be anything. Possibly Republic, or Regime.” He scratched his chin, “Northern Earth Regime? No, that doesn’t seem right. Put this with the other things. We’ll see what we can get from it.” He passed it over to Natalie. “Your our lad scientist. I want you and your team to examine this. See if you can get any mutant DNA from it.”
Natalie nodded and placed the fabric in her chest pocket. “Shall I take the weapon with me too and run a diagnostics check on it?”
John nodded. Then he stood up and looked through the photos again.
“I think this is all we need for to know for now. Another meeting will be held after we find out more. For now, you are all dismissed.”

Chapter 3: The war begins
Inside the underground citadel, Zander sat down in the armoury. The order to commence the attack was given in less than an hour. Zander was only young. Three years old, but he had already developed a strong humanoid figure. Standing at 6 feet two inches. His features were well constructed, his eyes glowed a dark yellow and his skin gave off a healthy greenish brown glow. He had only enlisted in the NER two weeks ago, but he had proven himself a worthy candidate. Being promoted to Warrior class quicker than his two brothers, who remained at the rank of Ensign.
He managed to get promoted after taking down a band of rogues with no more than knife and a blaster. The blaster was a small energy weapon that fired off small discharges. It was a smaller version of the Falcon. A larger Energy Pistol that fired off a higher energy burst, but tended to overheat. Zander preferred the Blaster of most pistol weapons.
He finished up the top half of his yellow and green uniform. Then placed on the bronze helmet that only warriors could wear. It resembled a gladiator’s helmet. Zander liked gladiators. In the citadels library were many books that had been obtained from the humans. He would go down there when there was nothing to do and read through books on roman gladiators.
The ranks of the humanoid race acted differently than the humans. Rather than having about thirty different ranks you could ascend through. New recruits would start off as an Ensign. After that you became a warrior and got to wear the helmet. As you progress, more features are added to your helmet. Starting with a front mask and eventually a Mohawk. After this, the uniforms colours would change from yellow and green, to red and green, and finally blue and gold. After that, bronze armour plates are added to your uniform. This is the equivalent rank for a General. And the stance of warrior started at 6th and went down to 1st, which was the General equivalent rank.
Zander stood up and took a Blaster and holstered it. Then two knives and an incantation grenade. (For those who don’t know, the incantation grenade explodes into a burst of flame upon exploding. Setting things on fire, just like a Molotov cocktail).
He exited the room and bumped into someone.
“Ouch.” Zander looked down at whom he had hit.
She rubbed the top of her head and then looked back at Zander. It was Gina.
Gina was one of Zander’s only friends. Because of his obsession with gladiators, most just thought him to be a little weird, but not Gina. She just thought he was interesting. She wasn’t exactly the most beautiful around, but Zander liked her. She was cute and had blue eyes. Her skin was a different colour, more dark and human like. Possibly because her mother was a direct mutation from a human. She was only three inches shorter than Zander.
“Hi Zander. I’ve been looking for you.
Zander blushed, well as much as you can blush with the skin type he had.
“You were looking for me? Why?”
“I wanted to wish you luck. You are going out to fight very soon aren’t you?”
“Well, yes. I need to get to the carriers quick.”
“Do you know where you’re going?”
“Actually. I have no idea. Look, I better go. I don’t have much time. I’m going to be late, and punished if I don’t get there now.”
“Um, ok then. Well, watch yourself out there.”
Zander smiled, “Don’t worry. I’ll be fine. How dangerous could it be to fight some humans?”
Zander then waved good-bye to her as he ran off down the corridor to the hanger. Gina sighed and shook her head. Then walked off.

* * *

The alarm sounded throughout the base. The loudspeaker sounded what was happening to the soldiers of Scandid.
“Attention! Unknown attack force approaching via carrier class vehicles! All units prepare for attack! This is a code red repeat a code red!”
The announcement made things clear. This could be just the attack they were waiting for. Three days after the announcement, and the attack had finally begun. Jason sprung into action, taking a rifle and some grenades from beside his bed. He slipped on his pants and ran outside, searching the skies. Coming down from the East were around twenty dropship like vehicles. The AA’s (Anti-Air) began firing at the dropships. But they were agile and moved around to stop from being hit. They were also very quick and approached fast. By the time they had reached the base, there were only two that had been shot down. Scandid HQ had now become the battlefield.
Jason took cover behind a wall and poked his head around. The same mutants in their yellow and green uniform jumped out. Some wore different colour uniforms and helmet designs. Were these the different ranks? Jason fired around the corner and managed to hit two mutants, but only one dropped. They were tough. He un-holstered his Desert Eagle and fired that once. The first target it hit was direct and caused it to drop. They were scattering now, and advancing quick. They had gone for a pincer attack,
In which they had slowly moved in from two sides and the centre. They would swarm through and leave nothing.
Jason moved from his position, keeping low and firing back at random intervals. He took cover by a tank that was carelessly firing at the group. Jason moved away from the tank just as a missile hit and exploded the cannon. This was nuts, they were being overrun.
He took cover inside an enclosed bunker. Taking pot shots through the small window. The soldier that was there had been killed, so he manned the Heavy Machine gun (HMG) and blasted at the passing mutants. Six were taken out before a grenade landed inside the bunker. Jason sprinted out of the bunker and fell over onto his face, his hands on his head to shield from the explosion. They were winning and he knew it. A mutant came around the corner, this one wearing straight green uniform and no helmet. It spotted Jason and prepared to shoot, but was struck down by a bullet from a soldier. He moved over to Jason.
“You all right there? That was a real close explosion.”
“I’m fine. Quick, we’ll take cover in here.”
They moved into a building and slowly went through a room. Gunshots fired from the next room. They moved in and tried to help the soldier desperately fighting for his life. But they were too late. A bullet hit his head and killed him. Jason fired at the two mutants, yelling a few curses as he did. The first mutant went down, and the second yelled.
“Brother! DAMN YOU HUMAN!”
The mutant fired at the soldier with Jason and killed him. Then aimed at Jason himself, but before it could fire Jason pulled the trigger. But it was empty. The mutant smiled and pulled its own trigger, but all the gun did was let out some steam. The gun appeared to have overheated. He began to reload his gun as quick as possible to shoot the mutant before it could fire, but the mutant pulled out two knives and began to charge him. The clip almost slipped out of his hand as he slammed it into the gun and fired, but it was too late! The last thing he saw was the large, glowing yellow eyes, and his own blood from the cut in his neck.

Chapter 3: Situation Code Red
The reports had overfilled in the last five hours. From almost every EUDF stronghold, reports had come in reporting an attack from an unknown hostile humanoid army. And each followed up in the same way, first saying that the enemy had overwhelmed the defences, and requested reinforcement. And finally a report in red writing was sent. Stating which place were hit, the time between the sighting and the actual assault, what was used, and the final outcome. Each said that the enemy had obtained victory. And some even said that the bombs in the base were set off to destroy the enemy forces. Seventeen bases. Seventeen defeats. And more than five hundred losses. Six places hit claimed that all bombs were self-destructed leaving the lives claimed unknown.
Soldiers raced up and down of the EUDF Command Centre. All of them chattering and giving out reports to other HQ stationed across the world. John entered the room, furious at the situation. He moved over to a table with some soldiers at it, all examining the battle reports and rearranging the markers.
“Commander.” Spoke Lieutenant Newman. He saluted, along with the three other soldiers and then returned to what they were doing.
“Lieutenant, give me an update on what is going on.”
“Well as you can see sir. An unknown attack force assaulted these bases here. Only Hustler Bunker and Westley HQ remain in the vicinity of South America. We presume though that the enemy are preparing an attack force and will head north soon to attack them and many more. From what we know of the reports, the invasion force approached all from this direction. And by cross examining, we have reason to believe that the enemy originated from this location.”
“So it is them. These so-called NER’s have begun their attack, and so soon too. We warned those bases of an impending assault, but this is nuts. Are all of these really destroyed?”
“Yes sir. Each one sends the same report of an invasion force dropping units in the same uniform style from aircraft. Then they overwhelmed the bases and destroyed them. Each attack happened during the time of 0900 hours and 1225 hours. The following bases, Forx HQ, Valhalla Base, Serenity Air base, Vermont HQ, Trinity HQ, and Maroon Air base self-destructed their larger bombs in an attempt to destroy the remaining attack force.”
“Holy shit. Did they really? They must have been really desperate to do such. Bastards! I hope they took a bunch of them to hell with them too.”
“We need orders for the following, Hustler Bunker, Westley HQ and a Flag Ship, BS Destiny. They all have the reports and they are extremely worried. They request orders.”
John rubbed his forehead. Such an assault was not expected. Of course after the first sighting report came in three days ago, they had been making preparations. But this was too soon.
“Ok. I want the Flag Ship to pull back to the nearest port in the North African Coast. That should keep them safe. And I want those two bases to abandon their bases and head North to Raccoon Bunker. That place is well reinforced. Tell them to take everything they can. Issue all information to all bases we have about what has occurred. Then do the same for any remaining UNDF and IFE bases, and if they don’t believe us. Send them the satellite feeds from the bases that have just lost all their lives.”
John then moved away from the table and exited the room. Things were well out of hand now. And there was nothing he could do except try to issue the right orders to everyone under his command, so that such a thing could never occur ever again.

* * *

Raccoon Bunker received the order to prepare for an imminent attack. And the large amount of soldier that were about to come to their base for shelter. General Peterson stood by the observation window. Looking down at the many lives under his command. In an instant, he could order them to die. And with the reports he received, such a thing seemed like it would happen.
Never in his life as a soldier had such an order been given. Not even in the days of working for the IFE. Soldiers from two other bases were now being redeployed at his base to get ready for an assault from an army that had enough power and a well thought out strategy to take out 17 other bases in less than seven hours. The bunker was really more of a stronghold. Its large perimeter dug into the Earth’s surface and it also lead deep down into an underground base too. It had two Heavy cannons. Cannons built to take down destroyers, (Large siege tanks the size of a five normal tanks put together), in one hit. And then be ready to do the same to anything else. But it was still called a bunker, regardless of its structural integrity.
A soldier entered and saluted, “General. We have more orders.”
“Yes, go ahead.”
“High Command says that we are going to be receiving nuclear weapons in a day.”
“Nukes?! Why are they sending Nukes?”
“High Command says that since we are the nearest base to Hustler and Westley HQ, we are the most suitable for launching a nuclear attack on the approaching enemy.”
“So they want us to launch nukes at our own bases. When?”
“As soon as the enemy reach those bases. High Command is monitoring it closely via satellite. As soon as they reach there, we are to launch.”
“And what of the soldiers coming from there?”
“There is nothing on that. It just says that they will arrive in two days. We should be able to launch the attack safely then.”
“And what if they attack before then?”
“High Command has explained this. If the attack comes before then, then once our forces are destroyed, they will give an order for the nuke to be launched. Regardless.”
“Nuke our own! That is crazy! What whack-job is responsible for handing out that plan?”
“Commander J Robertson, sir.”
The General stopped and his face tuned from worry, to shock, and then to worry again. He was speechless. Not only was this order one that sounded like a lunatic had thought it up on an off day. It came from the Commander himself.
“This must be more serious than I thought.” He sounded concerned. “If that is the orders from the Commander. Then I guess… we’ll just have to follow them. You may go now.”
The soldier saluted and the general returned it slightly. He leaned his front weight on the window of the observation deck. He was extremely worried.
“Come on you sorry sods. Get here quick, before we have to be the ones to end it.”

Chapter 4: Second wave
Zander sat inside his room rubbing the freshly sown up wound in his side. During the assault a soldier had shot him while he tried to finish him off with his knives.
“I can’t believe I got so careless,” He tried to stand up but could not. “Damn humans.”
The door to his room opened up and a girl poked her head in.
“Oh, hi Gina. What do you need?”
“You don’t sound to happy to see me. I thought you’d like having visitors.”
“Oh, sorry. I’m just feeling a bit down at the moment I guess.”
“Ok. Umm, is it alright if I come in?”
Zander nodded, not looking back at Gina.
“I heard you got injured. Are you all right? Does it hurt?”
Zander didn’t answer.
“Come on, you can talk to me. I’ve never seen you like this before, what’s wrong?”
Zander looked up at Gina as she sat down beside him.
“Is it the injury that’s getting you down? It can’t be that bad.”
“No, It’s not that. It’s, kind of personal.”
“Oh. Well you can tell me. If it’s a secret, I can keep secrets. Oh come on Zander, stop being babyish and talk to me.”
“My brother’s were killed.
Gina stopped bouncing around to cheer Zander up and put her hand over her mouth.
“They killed them. One of my brothers was killed when his carrier was hit, and my other brother was killed right next to me. And they almost got me too.”
“Oh Zander, I’m so sorry. I didn’t…”
“It’s alright. Don’t you worry because I got revenge for them both. I made sure that there was no mercy for any human I encountered. Ouch.”
“You were shot, weren’t you? Come on show me.”
Zander didn’t say anything, but after looking back at Gina he sighed and lifted his shirt to reveal where the stitching was.
“Ouch. How big was the gun used for that? It must have been massive. Your lucky you’re not dead.”
Zander put down his shirt and began looking at the floor again.
“I wont be able to attend the next battle because of this. It’s going off in two days. But the doctors say I need to stay and get rest and fluids for at least another week before I can go back to the field. It sucks real bad.”
“No it doesn’t. It just means you have more chance of living longer.”
Zander continued to look down at the floor and Gina stared at him concerned. Then she put an arm around him and rested her head on his shoulder. Zander didn’t move, but looked slightly embarrassed. He didn’t really care.

* * *

The alarm sounded. High Command had just issued the order to launch the nuke. The mutant army had approached both Hustler and Westley HQ and appeared to be making their attack.
“All personal please evacuate the launching site. Repeat, all hands evacuate the launching site.”
Soldiers scattered back and forth heading for the nearest shelter. Raccoon Bunker didn’t have a missile silo, so a fitted truck had been supplied to launch it. A countdown started up and the General watched and waited from the observation deck. Looking down at one of humanities most dangerous constructions. Though the soldiers from Hustler and Westley had reach Raccoon five hours ago, the General still didn’t like the idea of destroying his own bases. But it had to be done.
The countdown reached zero and a jet of flame burst from the missiles rear as it propelled itself off the trucks ramp and high into the air. The observation deck was twenty stories high and provided a spectacular view of the surroundings. It wouldn’t be a surprise if he could see it from here.

* * *

The carriers flew circles over the base known as ‘Hustler HQ’. It was strange, why hadn’t the humans attacked. Orders from the citadel were handed out for both squads to land a single group to examine the base. Was it a trap? The lead carrier received an order, “Enemy have evacuated north. Regroup and attack Northern base. Reinforcements will arrive in one hour.”
The message was relayed between all carriers from both parties and they changed their flight pattern to the regrouping area. But almost as soon as they did this a brilliant burst of light erupted only a mile from the base. The light began to explode into a burst of energy and flame as it expanded its radius, getting closer and closer to the carriers. And within only fifteen seconds, the carriers were caught in the light, and it was over.

Chapter 5: Two fronts
After the message had reached all rebel, UNDF and IFE bases. It only took a small amount of convincing to get them to end their conflict. And with the small forces that continued to disbelieve what was happening. All it took was the new satellite images from the nuclear attack to get them to join.
All war fronts had agreed to the peace and signed the documents that would make them officially EUDF personal. It was a great moment that finally showed the end of the sixth world war. But there was still the impending threat from the NER, (which had now been identified as the New Earth Republic).
Now that there was no more fighting between the human forces. There was only one front to fight on now against the NER. There had been little contact with the NER after the nuclear attack, which gave time for a new war strategy to be set up.
The EUDF planned out an invasion force to take back South America from the NER. All human troops had been redeployed in near the border Central America, close to Raccoon bunker, and the most southerly points South America to prepare for an attack. Naval craft had also been deployed at the southern points and eastern Mostly Aircraft Carriers. And long range battleships. This was to be their first strike against the enemy. And hopefully would prove successful.
A week later after the nuclear attack, the order was given to all forces to make their attack. The forces from the north would move along the western coastline and then move in to the mainland upon reaching the Amazon River. The forces from the south began to retake two strongholds, Stevenson HQ and Lorand Airbase. The aircraft carriers would deploy all available aircraft to attack the enemy ‘citadel’ as soon as either the forces from the south or the forces from the north had reached the Amazon.
After two days, the forces from the south managed to take back both strongholds, allowing for more forces to be stationed. Little resistance was met until they reached the perimeter of the Amazon. They were forced to retreat back and regroup. The strongholds proved to be useful on most levels, but didn’t allow much for a forward advance. The NER proved to have more forces up their sleeve than first expected. And because of their control over the Amazon, attacks were slow and couldn’t keep up with the constant need for supplies.
Meanwhile the forces from the north managed to take a NER outpost stationed half a mile up the river. This now serves as a main assault front, but is proving to be worse than the days of the Vietnam War where enemy troops stormed allied bases, destroying everything and everyone. Within three days, all troops were forced to pull out and regroup at a Scandid HQ. The nearest base to the enemy Citadel, and unlike previously, had been well reinforced due to the efforts at the captured outpost with holding off enemy advances.
Since the enemy had managed to hold off the ground advance, all air attacks proved futile. The thick forest made it too difficult to get suitable targets. This limited air assaults to emergency assistance for Scandid HQ and the southern outposts on the outskirts of the Amazon.
In the fortnight that the attack had been made, the assault managed to achieve one of its goals. That is to stop enemy advance and take back as many strongholds as possible. But it was still futile. Every time the enemy would be pushed back. They would come back even stronger. And what made things worse was the fact that their technology seemed to be improving. And so were the strategies employed. If the enemy could not be subdued soon, then all forces would need to pull back away from South America. And all efforts would have been for nothing.

* * *

At 1415 hours, two weeks, four days after the first strike. An alert came in from an outpost in Western Asia. The report read as so;
“Enemy NER carriers have been spotted heading towards Easterly towards outpost X21D. Request immediate assistance, enemy force is a combination of carriers and ground assault vehicles that appear to be tanks of unknown classification. Repeat, request immediate assistance. Enemy force is massive. We can not hold out against them.”
A video uplink was established with John personally giving out the orders. Four Generals and eight Sergeants appeared each on separate screens.
“Commander,” Spoke the Sergeant from outpost X21D, “The enemy are here. They are attacking. We can’t hold them… we need… AHH!” The video feed was lost.
Sergeant Jefferson, from Fox Airbase began to hesitate. His airbase was the nearest to the outpost and the radar was just picking up enemy advancement.
“Commander. They’re coming! What are we going to do?”
John looked at all the worried faces. “Fall back to General Lucas’s Stronghold. That should provide a suitable defence. Do it now. Don’t worry about supplies.”
“Yes sir.” The screen went blank.
Now. Sergeants. I want you all to fall back to that Stronghold. No doubt you are picking up the enemy on your radar. You are to head there now. Only take what you can grab in less than a minute and get moving.”
General Green. Take a large force of tanks with you to the same stronghold. I want your toughest ones too. Once again do it quick. I’m going to send out reinforcements from wherever we can get them. We will not allow them to win. Fight with all you’ve got. All of you move it now. Get to that Stronghold sooner than you think you can.”
“Yes sir.” All screens went blank.
They command centre was in disorder. Messages were still coming in about the front in the South America. But now there was a front in Western Asia. And soon it will have reached Central Asia.
“AI, give me a satellite feed over all of China. Try and zoom in on the enemy invasion force.”
“Now scanning. Satellite uplink established. Now moving image to monitor three. Enemy forces found. Establishing suitable satellite uplink of enemy invasion force.”
The screen lit up with the image of an attack force equivalent to the one now staged in South America. This was now getting out of hand. How did the enemy manage to get such a large force there, and without being detected? John was sweating from the pressure. He went to sip from his coffee cup, but it was empty. He frustrating put it down hard on the table, causing it to crack.
“Damn it. That was my favourite mug. Ah! Damn those NER’s. This is stupid now. AI, prepare message recording.”
“Recording established.”
“All forces in South America are to pull out now. The situation has gotten out of hand now that the enemy have managed to find a way into Asia and make a large scale attack from there. All forces are to fall back to Harmonia Defence HQ and Raccoon Bunker, immediately. All ships are to head for the coast of North Africa, and then to move to Eastern Europe from there. All forces in the southern most point are to fall back to the coastline to be evacuated. Those are your orders. End recording.”
“Recording ended.”
“Send the message to all forces stationed in South America.”
“Message now being sent.”
John leaned back in his chair. He opened up the box of headache tablets and took two of them. He carelessly swallowed them whole and had coughed for a while until they finally made it down. The pressure was too much now. The NER had outmanoeuvred him, and now it was costing him the lives of all his soldiers. And it seemed like it would soon take the lives of those in Harmonia soon enough.

Chapter 6: The war strategy failure
Zander leaped out of the carrier. Shooting wildly at the enemy as he attempted to take cover. Though weak, the enemy was resilient and fought long and hard. It had been long known that there were machines high up in space that kept a constant eye upon their every move. But they still were forced to retreat from their respective bases in Central Asia.
Not long ago, Zander overheard a message saying that all enemy forces had retreated to this very stronghold. A desperate attempt to keep their troops safe. And it was going to work. This operation was running more on time than before. If the base weren’t taken soon then it would be a failure.
Zander scanned around, not many had made it inside the base. Most were still outside trying to break through the heavy walls. But at least their air defences were destroyed. A squad of Raptors came in and managed to destroy them. Not bad considering there hadn’t been much time for aircraft training. They were impressive to see them fly overhead. And they were holding up well regardless of the enemy.
A soldier came around a corner wielding a massive long weapon. He kneeled down and fired a projectile at one of the aircrafts. And though it missed, it turned around and impacted against the raptors hull. Zander was shocked; he had never seen a weapon of such capabilities. He shot the soldier, bringing it down with a single headshot and then took the heavy weapon.
A bullet zipped past him, only just missing his head. He rolled out of the way, hurting himself on the weapon and fired it. The three soldiers that had taken aim barely had time to duck and cover as the missile exploded its way into a tank.
Zander smirked, “I think I’ve found my new best friend.”
He took aim again and pulled the trigger. But nothing happened.
“Oh come on, buddy. Shoot again, please.”
He opened up what appeared to be where the ammo was loaded. It was empty.
Another bullet zipped past, with another skimming off his arm. Zander had to abandon the weapon and take cover. This was crazy; the enemy was too well dug in here. How were we supposed to take this stronghold if the enemy could just take cover behind such a powerful defence? An explosion erupted from down the bottom. Zander peered over. The forces down at the wall had broken through, finally. He spun around the corner and shot at the two remaining soldiers. They were well protected behind some debris. And Zander was regretting the choice for the blaster and nothing else. But his armoury was limited, so it could not be helped. He had to manage with what he had.
He fired around the corner again, but his weapon almost immediately began to steam again.
“No, no, no! Don’t overheat. Son of a…”
An explosion went off five meters from Zander, causing debris to fly past. Zander had no time to react to the sudden attack and was knocked out cold.

* * *

Damien moved slowly over towards where the explosion went off.
“Good throw Zakk. I think you got him.”
Zakk moved closer to Damien, keeping his weapon aimed high. He was a cautious man, only 17 years old and not very tall. His parents had dies long ago in the war between the UNDF and IFE. Damien was his closest friend and was like a brother to him.
“Are you sure its dead. You can’t be too careful with these mutants.”
“Well it isn’t moving. And I don’t think you generally bleed from there like that.”
Damien moved over to the mutant and nudged it with his weapon. He then carefully looked over the ledge.
“Dam, those bastards actually managed to get through the wall. That things like 10 inch concrete.”
Zakk lowered his gun and looked over too.
“How many do you think we can pick off from up here before they breach this wall?”
“I dunno’. Maybe ten minutes if they keep up with this rate. But they will probably fall behind after that. Once they breach the wall into the central section, there’ll be a nice surprise for them.”
“Surprise? Like what?”
“Oh, you know. Tanks and what not. They’ve been hidden so they can’t be seen from the air. Speakin’ of which, get down.”
Zakk and Damien leaped out of the way as a downed enemy aircraft crashed into the side. Looking up they saw the allied aircraft flying overhead. This was now a war zone in the air and on the ground.
“I think we should get out of here.”
“Good idea. We’ll fall back to the centre. Then when they break through, we’ll give ‘em hell.”

* * *

Zander awoke to the sounds of more explosions. He felt his head. His vision was blurred and he couldn’t see properly out of his left eye. His right arm appeared to be dislocated. HE nudged himself against the wall to brace himself as he stood up.
“What’s… going on?” He murmured. Disorientated.
He shuffled over to the edge of the wall. He could make out figures in NER uniform retreating back from where they were. His arm was hurting greatly now because it dangled back and forth. He grabbed hold of it with his good arm and with a few quick jerks, snapped it back into place. He made sure he could move his hand. It was working properly. A hot sweat dripped down his face, but rather than the taste of sweat, it was the taste of blood. He placed his hand on his forehead; he had been knocked in the head and was bleeding. Thinking back to his training, he ripped off a long piece of his uniform and used it to put pressure around his head to stop the bleeding.
Zander looked around for a way down so he could rejoin his fellow soldiers. But could not. The wall was at least 15 meters high. He turned around and began to walk away. Stumbling back and forth. It was difficult to keep balance.
“So this is the end. This is how I am to die.”
At that moment a figure came into view. He tried to make it out, hoping it was something good. But as it came closer it lifted its hand and knocked him down. Zander fell down onto his hands and knees, realizing it was an enemy soldier. He had to fight back. But could not find the strength. All he could muster was the words.
“Finish me…”
He looked up at the soldiers face and made out an evil smirk.
“Oh no. We’ve got much better plans for you.”
Zander fell to the ground, unconscious.

* * *

A voice sounded in the distance. It was difficult to make out. But a small light appeared and the voice became clearer.
“Zander. Wake up. Please, wake up Zander.” It was Gina.
Zander’s eyes opened then squinted to adjust to the light. His vision was still blurred but he could make things out better now. He peered around. To his left was a humanoid. It rocked back and forth, gripping his knees to his chest as it did. On Zander’s right was another humanoid. Sitting clumsily on a bench while looking down at the floor fiddling with his hands.
“Sir. This ones just woken up.”
“Good. Pick him up and take him to the room for questioning.”
Zander couldn’t really react. His whole body was numb. Strong hands lifted him up and half dragged him away. Zander couldn’t quite figure out where he was. But as his mind became clear as he left his cell. He was now a prisoner.

Chapter 7: Out of reach
John walked around his room. Natalie was in the bathroom, putting on her uniform. He was furious that at what had happened. Not really at the NER’s. But himself for allowing them to out manoeuvre him. Because he had put too much attention to the war front at the Amazon, he had to pull back from that battlefield as far as Raccoon Bunker, and even all the way to Harmonia Defence HQ. Which was twelve miles up from Raccoon Bunker.
Natalie left the bathroom. “Its all yours now. Are you still beating yourself up over what happened? Come on John, that wasn’t your fault. No would have expected them to make a move like that.”
“You aren’t looking at the big picture are you? Because of my lack of attention to other bases in the world, the NER have managed to force us away from a war front that took us two weeks to establish. And they almost took our strongholds in Central Asia too.”
“Get a grip will you.”
“Eight Hundred lives Natalie. Eight hundred lives.”
John stopped pacing and took a swig from a bottle of scotch on his bedside table. Natalie moved over and began to massage his shoulders.
“I know it’s terrible what has happened. But you did your best. Remember that your quick thinking managed to save a lot of lives. And is still saving them to this day. You’re doing a great job and I don’t think anyone else could have done better.”
John was calmer now. He liked how Natalie could do that. She exploited his weak spots using a combination of a soothing calm voice and massaging his shoulders. It made him feel more relaxed. But it still didn’t help the fact that he had failed.
“I better get ready. And you should too. General Lucas has sent a report that they have captured some NER soldiers. I’m going down there for a quick trip, but this is more in your field so I need you to come too.”
“Ok. I’ll meet you at the dropship then. Same hanger as usual?”
John nodded and entered the bathroom, closing the door as he did. Natalie sat down on the bed, concerned. Much had happened in the last few weeks.

* * *

Back at the NER citadel, the NER leader had called for a meeting between himself and his highest ranked warriors. Which he really only had three of, but each had proved themselves very valuable or many situations. They all sat around a circular table.
Belmont had been among the few that stopped a stampede of veracious mutants from destroying a convoy. He used his bare hands to take down three and lost his right arm because of it. Thanks to human cybernetic technology his arm had been replaced.
Katie was one of the fastest humanoids around. She could run miles in just one hour. She was also exceptionally good at using bladed weapons.
Xord was one of the best strategists in the NER. HE was partially responsible for coordinating the first attack on the humans. Which proved to be very successful and sparked the uprising of the entire NER.
“So,” began the Leader (he never spoke his real name. He was known only as the ‘Leader’), “our last counterattack in Central Asia has proven a failure. The human’s managed to provide a quick defence against our attack and forced us to pull out. But that isn’t the reason I called this meeting. It has come to my attention that the humans have captured our warriors. This is not acceptable. We must find a way to take back our warriors before they are put through whatever those filthy humans do to their prisoners.”
Xord leaned forward. “ So are we going to mount another attack to get them back? Or is their going to be a recon operation beforehand?”
Katie sat up more straight. Recons were just what she was good at. And she loved to test her speed. The Leader looked around at them and rested his head on his hands.
“What we are going to do is mount a rescue. Not a recon. Xord, I want you and Katie to work together on this. Work at a suitable plan using what data you have on that base. When you’re ready, launch a nighttime rescue operation. Katie you are the best suited for such so you’ll command the small squad to rescue them. You’ll have to brush up on your stealth.”
“I will take this mission with the highest priority.” Responded Katie happily.
“Belmont. You will set up an assault force surrounding the base. When and if Katie’s squad is discovered I want you to launch a distraction. Don’t attack them directly. Stay back and fire long ranged missiles.”
“I’ll do my best.”
“Good. Then we are all clear on what will happen?” They all nodded. “Good. I want this operation ready in six hours. So you better get to work Xord. Dismissed.”

* * *

The carriers returned with the final group of soldiers from the outpost. Many wounded were unable to make the first trip so the carriers had been going back and forth for the last 20 hours picking up soldiers and returning them.
Gina stood eagerly, watching the soldiers get out. She hadn’t seen Zander return yet and was extremely worried. The carrier emptied and her face changed from worry to distress. She spotted the soldier in command of the operation. He was sitting down at a table looking through the reports. He would know where Zander was. He had to know.
“Excuse me, sir. Could you please tell me the whereabouts of 6th rank Zander?”
The soldier looked up at her face and then sighed.
“Ok, just give me a second.”
He seemed to have been getting these questions all day. And was tired of having to look back through all the reports to find the soldiers file for the battle.
“Ok. It says here that he is unknown.”
“Unknown? What the heck does that mean?”
“I’m sorry, but unknown means that we do not have any current information on his whereabouts.” He observed her confused expression. “You’re not going to like this, but that means he is likely to be dead.”
Gina stepped back, her hand to her mouth to stop herself from gasping. She shook her head in disbelief.
“No, that can’t be. Are you sure? It must be wrong.”
“I’m sorry, but that is what it says.”
Gina kept shaking her head. She didn’t believe it. But deep down, she knew it was true. She turned around and ran away back to her room.

Chapter 8: Capture
Natalie paced around the room. Occasionally glancing at the humanoid sitting in the chair in the middle. The room was dark and had one small light directed over the mutant. He appeared to be sulking. She shook her head and walked over slowly. Bending over to meet his height. The mutant looked up at her face, angry but scared.
“I don’t want to do this anymore than you do. Now I’ll ask once more. What is your name?”
The mutant continued to not answer. He waited till she was closer then tried to snap at attack her, but the restrains were too strong. Natalie stood up then reached into her pocket and pulled out a small silver object. The mutant observed her closely, curious at what she had pulled out. Then she walked behind him and the braces holding him down clicked off. The mutant was exceptionally curious now. He had been through three questionings before this, and never had the braces been removed. At least not before he was sedated.
“I don’t really agree to the idea of anyone being chained down like an animal. You can stand up if it makes you feel better.”
On the other side of a small two-way mirror the General began to get alarmed.
“What is she doing? That mutant could attack her!”
John placed a hand on his shoulder. “Calm down General. She knows just what she’s doing. Just sit down and watch.”
The mutant continued to sit. Rubbing his wrists that had turned slightly darker shade greenish brown. His yellow eyes darted around and then relocked on Natalie. She calmly stood a meter in front of him with her hands behind her back. Then she leaned forward to speak again.
“Now. Can you please tell me your name?”
This was his chance. He leaped up from the chair and attempted to grab the woman, but she was quick. She dodged the attack with startling speed, her hands still behind her back. He attacked again, but missed. She just calmly moved side to side, avoiding everything he threw at her. She even began to giggle. She was mocking him.
“How dare you mock me!”
She then stopped giggling. “Oh, sorry. Well if you don’t want to play nice.”
She moved behind him and grabbed his arm, then twisted it behind him. He tried to move, but she forced him against a wall. She had amazing strength for someone like her.
“Now, do you think you can restrain from attacking me? I am not here to fight, I’m here to get answers. So could you please answer them?”
“Ok, ok. Just stop twisting my arm.”
Natalie released her grip and moved away.
“Your name please.”
“Its Zander.”
“Good. Now how easy was that.”
“And your name?”
“Well I see no harm in telling you. My name is Dr. Cross. But you can just call me Natalie if you think that’s easier.”
Zander remembered what a doctor was. Was she just a civilian? She was, yet she exhibited such strength and agility. Zander got strange vibes from her.
“Now. What can you tell me about your race?”
“My race? Oh, I know what you mean.” Zander moved over to the chair and leaned his front weight on it. “What exactly is there I can tell you don’t already know?”
“Well, there are things like your technology. How your army operates such as ranks. What you usually eat. Those kinds of things. Just try to tell me something that you think we wouldn’t know.’
Zander cautiously looked at her. He knew he wasn’t allowed to say anything about how the NER operated. Those things had to stay secrets. But to avoid more pressing questions, he decided to answer things on what they usually ate and how they lived.
“Well, we commonly eat vegetables we grow inside our greenhouses. They’re underground. Like most of our things.”
“Really. Underground greenhouses. I’d like to know how you manage to grow food down there without any real sunlight.”
“We use ultraviolet light and growth formulas and help them grow. It’s actually very affective. Our vegetables grow twice as quick as your do. We kind of improved upon your technology for that. But the growth formula is our own creation. That’s as much as I know on that.”
“Ok then. That sounds rather impressive. It seems you have been working very hard to make a working society in the last three years.”
“And we eat meat. Once again, we used your technology and improved it to suit our situation. There isn’t much variety. Just lamb, pork and poultry.”
“Fascinating.” She seemed to be pretending to act enthusiastic about hearing what Zander told her. But she was only doing what she was told. She’d rather be at home cooking than this. But she kept the act going, and though Zander new that she wasn’t really interested at all, he felt calm and relaxed.
“Do you mind if I ask you a question?”
Natalie looked at him for a while. Considering what she should do.
“Depends on what you’re going to ask.”
“Your not like the other humans. Are you?”
Natalie smiled slightly. “You’re a quick one aren’t you? Yes I am not like other humans. In fact I’m far from it. But if you want to see different, you should meet my husband. You two might get along really well.”
“Husband? I am not familiar with that term.”
“Really. Then it looks like you have things to learn from us, just as we have things to learn from you.” Natalie grinned. “I think we might just have a way of getting our answers.”

* * *

The night was a fortunate one for this operation. The moon was barely visible and what section of it that was had been obscured behind clouds. The small group moved in towards the wall. They were planning on using the section that had been destroyed to get in, but there were too many search lights on the wall, and humans walked around examining the damage still. They would need to find another way inside.
Katie signalled to the three with her to move to start making their way around the wall until they found a way in. Eventually they found one. A section of the wall that had mostly collapsed from an aircraft hitting it made for a suitable entry point. All they had to do was climb up the rubble and over the top.
Katie went first, the other three following quietly behind. She poked her head over the top ledge to look around. A single soldier watched what was happening down below. Not really paying attention. He placed a small object to his mouth and drew in on it. Then tossed it on the ground and stepped on it. Katie slowly moved closer to him. Taking out her knife as she did. She grabbed him from behind, one hand over the mouth and the other around the neck. She slit his throat and dumped the body back the back the way they came so it wouldn’t be found.
“Ok. Move quietly and keep low. Don’t rush out at anything. We don’t want to be found. And keep up.” She whispered.
They continued to move along the wall. Stopping to check what was going on around them. They found a staircase leading down to a door. Once inside their mission would get more difficult. But it was unlikely that the prisoners were outside.
They entered the door, slowly checking it was clear first. There was a soldier resting in a chair. Katie crept passed over to another door. She saw no need to attack if it the enemy was asleep. Then there was a quiet shifting and then a cracking sound. She looked around to see that one of her squad members had snapped the neck of the soldier. This didn’t please her.
“If you make a foolish move like that again, I’ll snap your neck. Now rearrange the body so it doesn’t look like its dead and keep following.”
She slowly opened the next door. It lead outside, and there was plenty of soldiers. She counted twelve of them. There was no way to go through this way. She closed the door silently and moved over to the next door, this one lead into a hallway. There was one camera above the door she was at. They had all been updated on these. If they moved anywhere the cameras were, they would be detected. She backed into the room again and looked around. She noticed the many screens that the dead soldier sat in front of. Then she saw that one of them showed an image of the hallway she just checked out. These must be linked to the cameras around the base. She smirked and began searching through the screens for what she would need.
A noise came from outside. Someone was coming. She signalled for the group to get ready. The door they had originally come through opened up and a soldier came in. Katie was quick and grabbed hold of him, snapping his neck before he could react. This was getting dangerous now. Two bodies and nowhere to dump them. They now needed to get moving even more urgently than before. But Katie knew that the others would only get in her way.
“You three stay here. Keep an eye on these screens. If you spot something heading my way, use the intercom you have to tell me. I’m going to head to here. I think that’s where our prisoners are.”
She pointed to a screen where soldiers could be seen standing in front of bared walls. It looked like a prison cell. That must be where they are.
The others acknowledged that they knew what to do and took up positions around the room while Katie went back out the first door and headed along the wall again.

* * *

“Ok. I think we’ve had enough discussion for now. You’ll have to go back to your cell now.”
Zander wasn’t smiling anymore. He had rather enjoyed the conversation, but now he had to go back he was displeased. He accepted that he had to go and waited calmly for the guards to come in and place the buckles on him. He didn’t flinch this time. Natalie had explained that they had no real intentions on doing him harm. They just wanted to find out some information on what was happening. And though before he had wanted to be killed. Now he wanted to live. Talking with Natalie had reminded him of Gina. He wondered what she was doing right now.
Natalie walked over to the mirror as the lights in the room returned to normal. And once Zander was well out of the room and the door was closed she started to talk.
“Well. I’ve been at this for more than an hour now. May I take a break?”
John spoke through the speakers. “Yes, you did a very good job. I think we’ve got all we really need from here. Our works done so we might as well go back to the Command Centre now.”
“Oh good. More fun. Can’t we just go home?”
“Sorry Natalie. But works work and we still have a lot to do.”
Natalie sighed and began to walk out of the room.
“I’ll meet you there in a while. I’m just going to go check out the other prisoners first.”
The General stood up from the chair and moved over to the door.
“I think it’s time I got back to my normal work too. Though I think I’ll be able to try and get some sleep long before you will.”
John exited the room. “You probably will, but then again. You’ll need it. You have to be prepared to defend this base from attacks. And I have to stay at High Command and play with documents and files.”
“Sounds like fun.”
John laughed. “Yes, it sure is.”
John walked off down the corridor in the opposite direction as the General. He had a strange feeling from the humanoids in the prison. He walked past the toilets and decided to that he needed to pee more than he needed to investigate more into the matter of mutants. Just as he entered he felt a strange presence pass not far from him. He looked down the corridor. He couldn’t see anything, so he entered the room, shaking his head and ignoring the feeling.

* * *

Katie waited for the man to enter the room before progressing further down the corridor. She had almost been spotted. He looked almost straight at where she had been. She checked again then made her way down. She reached another door and reached for the handle. But then it turned and she had to run back again to her hiding spot. A woman exited the door and went walked down the hallway. Katie pressed her back against the wall, hoping she wouldn’t turn around and se her.
“There’s someone approaching your position.” Came a voice over the intercom.
Katie looked back but couldn’t see anything coming. So she quickly moved back over to the door again and went through. There was a short corridor leading to another door. She slowly moved over to it and opened it. Inside were two guards. They spotted her, surprised at the sight. Katie moved quick, drawing out her knife and bringing down the guards before they could shoot. Then an alarm went off.
“Rats. I almost forgot about the camera.”
She tried to open the cage doors. But could not. Then a prisoner pointed to one of the guard’s pockets.
“In there. Use the key, quick.”
She moved over and pulled the key out of the pocket and used it to unlock the door.
“What took rescue so long? We have to get out of here now.”
“Don’t you think I know that already? Come on. Get moving. There’s a convoy waiting outside the base. Get out quick.”
“Don’t have to tell me twice.”
Katie waited for them all to get the door and then exited after them.
They entered the corridor and began to run back the way they came. But as they passed one of the doors it opened. Katie almost ran into it. A large man walked out, looking calmly at Katie. His eyes were like fire and he was very stern looking.
“Keep running.” She tossed the communicator to one of the prisoners. “Use that to guide yourself out.”
“What about you?”
“I know the way out. And I’m more than a match for anyone in this place.”
“Be careful.”
The prisoners continued to run and Katie got ready to face off against the man. He kept standing there, and then narrowed his eyes.
“I wouldn’t try that if I were you. You should run back the other way now.”
Katie grinned. “What, you afraid of a girl?”
She leaped over the man and then moved to slice his throat from behind. But the man grabbed her wrist without even turning around and swung her in front of him. Katie tried to get lose, but could not. The grip was incredibly strong.
“I said. Go the other way now.”
“I wont run from you, human. I’m one of the best. I’ll defeat you, then I’ll go the way I want to go.”
The man closed his eyes, he looked slightly disgruntled. Then he opened them up again and swung her around, breaking her wrist.
“Are you sure you wish to die?”
Katie managed to spit on his shoe. The man breathed deep then grabbed her knife and stabbed it in her shoulder.
“That isn’t a fatal wound, but it needs treatment.”
He shoved her away. Then turned and began to walk off. Katie was furious at being beaten by a human. She pulled out the knife and charged him quickly. Her speed was impressive and though she was wounded, she managed to make outstanding moves. She dodged around then went for the kill. But an instant before the knife connected. Her second knife was removed from her sheath, and then planted in her throat. She couldn’t breath. The knife blocked her windpipe. The man then took the other knife and finished her off.

Chapter 9: Escape
Zander ran as fast as he could. The alarm sounded loud and clear throughout the base and soldiers darted in every direction. It was hard to navigate around when the only help you had was from a small group in a room somewhere else.
“Keep running down this hallway. You’ll come to a door son. Go through it and turn left.”
Zander lead the other four that were with him. A few soldiers appeared and a small fire fight broke out. Unlucky for them, they had little weaponry. Just a few pistols they took when they took out a couple of soldiers. The three soldiers shooting at them had machineguns. But though they were outmatched they managed to take them out.
They ran through the door and turned left as told. But more soldiers were encountered. One of prisoners with Zander was shot down. And almost took the rest of them with them. But they managed to pull through and take out the rest of the soldiers encountered on their way.
“Ok, turn right here. You’re getting close to…”
Gunshots were herd over the intercom. Their rescuer team had been attacked and were likely dead.
“Grab those weapons. We’re all that’s left now. We have to get out!”
The remaining three with him were scared, but did their best to stay strong. They weren’t even warriors. They were just Ensigns and were not trained well enough for this. Zander was in command now. It was his duty to guide them all out of safely.
“Come on. Through here.”
They entered another room and found the three lifeless bodies of their rescue squad. Zander opened the door on his right and closed it immediately. There were around twenty soldiers out there and he thought he’d seen a tank too.
One of the prisoners went through the door at the other end of the room and took a bullet to the head. A soldier came in shooting randomly. Zander downed him quickly and then moved slowly out the door. Explosions could be heard going off. There seemed to be an attack. Yet there were no allied soldiers around. Zander perished the thought and moved onto the massive wall and began to walk along it, keeping low. The moon was out and provided a small amount of light. Searchlights scanned around and Zander peered over the side. Soldiers were running around in every direction. It was crazy down there.
Bullets skimmed by from up ahead. More soldiers. One of them balanced on one knee and began to aim a large weapon on his shoulder. Zander remembered the weapon and its destructive powers and fired. The soldier fell over dead just as the missile left the weapon. It buzzed only a few meters from where they were, exploding on a building behind them.
They moved further along and found a way down. Zander climbed down with the last two not far behind. They had escaped the base. Now they just had to get far away. A craft flew overhead as he climbed down, some small guns firing off in the direction of the attack. Zander looked up at it, a wired feeling from the craft. He shrugged and ordered the two soldiers to follow him away. They would head of to where the attack force was. That would be their rescue.

* * *

General Lucas paced back and forth. How did they get inside so well? They must have had a very good plan, as it proved mostly successful. Though the humanoids that managed to get in and rescue the prisoners had been killed. Three out of the five prisoners had escaped. The General was displeased and frustrated. He was possible going to get yelled out by High Command for this. He should have upped the security around the prisoners. And how did they find out that there were prisoners anyway. One of them must have sent a communication back to the citadel asking for help. For whatever reason it was, they made it in.
The General sat down in his chair and leaned back in it. His mind was racing now. But he tried not to think. There would be plenty of time for that tomorrow. For now he just wanted to get some sleep.

* * *

The carrier landed inside the hanger. Zander helped one of the soldiers with him off. He had a badly injured leg, but somehow managed to get away running when they were back at the base.
A group of medics came and began to examine them. Checking the injuries that they had and even giving an injection to one of them. Zander didn’t really care what they did. He was just happened to get away from that place.
A bunch of soldiers stood at attention. “The Leader is here.”
“As you were.”
The Leader moved over to them and looked at them all.
“I guess this means that the rescue team didn’t make it out.” He kept looking. “And two of the prisoners didn’t make it either.”
He moved over to one of the soldiers and looked at him. Then the next. Then he finally reached Zander. He looked at him and half smiled. Then turned and walked over to the soldier that was looking through the notes and documents. Updating them as he went. The Leader whispered something them turned to face us again.
“So you managed to get out alive. Even though it was night and you had no idea where you were. That is very good.”
One of the soldiers stepped in. “Actually, if it wasn’t for Zander we would have been killed.”
“Really.” He moved over to Zander and smiled some more.
“So your responsible for guiding these warriors out of that place. And against all odds too.”
“That is not completely true. The rescue team guided us most of the way. And the squad leader gave her life to hold off a strong soldier.”
“But after the rescue team was dead. You guided them to safety rather than giving up. You could have surrendered and been taken prisoner again. Or executed. You wouldn’t have been there for much longer. We are going to mount an attack there soon. We thought it better to get you all out first though.”
“But I didn’t do it all on my own.”
“Are you telling me what to think? I have made my decision and I intend to stick with it. Whether you think so or not, you were the highest in command in there and were responsible for getting these soldiers out safely. And you did so.”
Zander didn’t say anything. He kept standing there. Watching the Leader’s moves.
“Tomorrow you’ll all be awarded with a Prisoner of War Medal. And you Zander. For such heroics in the field and saving your fellow warriors even though the odds were well stacked against you. You are being promoted to warrior 5th class.” Unless you decide to not accept it.” The Leader looked Zander dead in the eye. Waiting eagerly for his response.
“I shall accept the reward with honour.”
“Good. Then I suggest you all return to your rooms and get rest. You have been through much and you must be all hungry and tired.”
The Leader then turned around and walked away. Zander didn’t really think he earned the reward. But he was happy to be moving up a rank. The feeling was pleasant and lightened his mood. The medic finished what he was doing and allowed Zander to go. He went straight to his room. He wasn’t really hungry, but he was very tired.

Chapter 10: From bad to worse
Natalie walked back into the control room carrying two fresh cups of coffee. John sat in his chair overseeing the present matter. Two screens had lit up and the faces in them were worried. Another battle had started up at 3:30pm and the enemy forces were breaking through. The bases hit was a stronghold in Eastern Europe, which contact had been lost with. Three various outposts that contact had also been lost with. And now they were frantically trying to evacuate soldiers from General Lucas’s Stronghold and Raccoon Bunker.
“Commander, they’re coming in quick. I don’t think we can make it!” Said General Lucas.
“Keep persevering. You can do this. Don’t allow those mutants to win.”
“Sir, the last ship is making its escape. We’ve done…” The screen for General Sanders at Raccoon bunker went blank, but the signal was still there.
“General sanders. Come in.”
“I’m… craft almost shot down… enemy aircraft… trying to escape…”
The screen was showing static now. But the sound was still coming in clear. The sound of a battle came through loud and clear over the sound of General Sanders yelling. Suddenly General Lucas’s screen went blank and the full signal was lost.
“Damn it! That’s another one lost!”
The screen for General Sanders switched back on.
“Sir. We’ve managed to escape. It was a close flight, but we made it. We’ll be there soon.”
“Good. At least you made it. But we just lost General Lucas.”
“Him too.” He grinded his teeth, a habit of his when he was under pressure. “How many have made it to High Command?”
“Out of the twelve hit. Only six. And we don’t even know if they’ll make it here.”
“Ok sir. We better cut transmission now. We don’t want them tracking us. Over and out.”
The screen switched off leaving John to sit there grumbling and rubbing his forehead. The situation was getting worse each day. The enemy was just too powerful. And the EUDF didn’t have enough resources to hold them off anymore. And not only that but there was a lack in command now. Each day high-ranked soldiers were killed leaving the lesser experienced to take control over war situations. Just three days ago, a private commanded a small squad of Ensigns through a battlefield. They managed to survive and the Private was promoted to Corporal. But that wasn’t enough. If things kept going the way they were, soldiers would have to be broken down into a select few, then promoted immediately to tanks like Lieutenant, Sergeant and even General!
“Here’s you coffee.” Natalie placed down the cup on the table.
“Thanks.”
John didn’t really pay attention to where she placed the cup and almost knocked it over. Natalie was worried about him. He had been working non-stop for three weeks. Barely having any rest. He couldn’t think anymore. Everything was falling apart in his hands and he couldn’t do anything about. He was subjected to calling all EUDF personal back to Harmonia. The only place left in the world that had a chance of survival against the NER and their still growing army.
Natalie pulled a chair up next to John and sat down in it. Sipping her coffee as she did. She wasn’t taking things well either. The war was wearing her down to the bone and each day she almost collapsed from exhaustion. It was a wonder that John hadn’t dropped yet. Even though he had little sleep, barley any food and drink. He still found the energy to sort through the constant piles of reports and give command to everything he controlled.
Natalie tried to comfort him. She knew how he was feeling. He wasn’t taking this war well. And he constantly blamed himself for the lives of soldiers lost in the field. And now not even Natalie could lighten his mood. He was an empty shell in the middle of a dark pit with no way of getting out.
“They’ll come here soon.”
Natalie lifted her head and looked puzzlingly at John.
“They’ll come and attack here. Destroying everything they come across. And they’ll win too.”
“Don’t say such things.”
“They will. And once they’re finished with Harmonia, they’ll attack Orion. Then there’ll be no chance of survival left.”
“John!”
“Face it Natalie. We’ve lost to a superior race. There’s no hope in humanities future now.”
“Shut up! You know that isn’t true. We will pull through. I know we will. And you’ll guide us to victory. You’ll see.”
“You put too much faith in me. Everyone has. And now it’s tearing us all apart.”
Natalie groaned. John wasn’t even listening to her. He had lost all hope for survival. And now he seemed to have given up. A screen flicked on.
“Commander. Phoenix HQ is now fully evacuated. Ah, commander. Are you alright sir?”
John woke up from his trance and looked at the screen. “Yes, I’m fine. Make sure you get back here as quick as you can. We’ve lost enough soldiers already to this war.”
“Yes. Over and out.”
The screen went blank and John returned to moping. Natalie was scared. Not from the enemy, but because John had lost himself. He just sat in his chair now. Occasionally sifting through files and giving orders to soldiers who appeared on the screens. He was looking pale and zombie like. This worried Natalie even more. This entire escapade was killing John from the inside out.
They weren’t the only ones who were suffering too. People were getting worried. The war’s events had been televised. Really only the parts where there were victories against the enemy. High Command wanted to keep people in the darkness and not let them know that we were losing the war. But deep down everyone knew. And the sight of so many soldiers returning from the field would only press that thought more. Soldiers on the field were also feeling it. In the beginning they had all been enthusiastic and seemed unstoppable. The end of the war and reuniting of all of humanity had raised everyone’s spirits. But the many losses to the enemy were wearing them down and morale was dangerously low. Almost to the point where they didn’t even care if they died and humanity was destroyed (This was the point where John seemed to be at). The only things that seemed to keep them fighting was the thought that they were fighting for their loved ones. The realization that for each enemy they brought down, their families had just that little extra chance of survival kept most soldiers going.
Natalie remembered the days when John was like that. She remembered the days of the 5th war, when they were running from mutants down in the facility. John would throw himself in front of anything, just so she could live. And it was because of that, “I will die before I let you harm her,” attitude that kept her alive. These memories brought a tear to her eyes as she looked at the crippled form of her, once all mighty, husband.
“I’m going to go for a walk.” Murmured John as he hefted himself up from his chair.
He grabbed his cup and drained it in a second. Natalie looked shocked and worried. Shocked because John had been devoided of so much now that he could drink a scolding cup of coffee without even feeling the burn. And worried because she didn’t know what to do for him.
Just before John left the room he stopped and looked at Natalie.
“If anyone appears on the screen, could you please take care of it for me. There shouldn’t really be anything. All survivors have managed to evacuate and will be arriving here soon. But I’ll be back here soon. I just need to stretch my legs.” John forced a slight smile.
This saddened Natalie more that John, even though he was like this, was still forcing himself to remain strong. He did it for a reason though. Because even though he knew there was no hope left, he knew that if he showed that he had lost hope, everyone else would feel the same. And then humanity would just die.

* * *

John wandered around the glooming corridors of High Command. He didn’t pay attention to anything happening around him. But when he passed a soldier that saluted, he forced himself to smile and tell them to be at ease. He did everything he could to not let on that he had lost hope. And he was doing well so far.
John entered the bar and clumsily sat down at the front. The worker there turned around and smiled.
“Ah, Commander. I didn’t expect you to be here. Would you like the usual?”
The man behind the counter was the same man he had met back when he was still just another soldier fighting for the UNDF, under his father’s commands. After the war ended, the man relocated himself to Harmonia. And John, knowing the man, decided to make this his official place for relaxation.
“Yeah, just the usual. Could you leave the bottle this time?”
The man stopped smiling and placed the full bottle on the counter along with a shot glass.
“I wont need the glass.”
“You sure? That’s not weak stuff.”
“Just get me some nachos.”
The man looked uneasily at John, shrugged and went off to prepare some nachos. John opened the bottle and took a long swig from it. He drank a little too quickly and began to cough uncontrollably. The bartender went over to help, but John just held up his hand and forced himself to stop coughing.
“Works getting you down is it?”
John nodded and took a smaller swig this time.
“I hear it everyday on the news. They say that we’re wining the war. But I know that’s not true. And so does everyone else. I don’t think there anyone who thinks we will win. But even though that they think that, they all remain strong.”
A beep went off and the bartender moved over and took out the bowl of nachos from the microwave and handed them over to John.
“It’s al because people believe in you.”
“Well then people should stop believing in me.” Said John though a mouthful of nachos.
“Slow down John. You’ll choke if you stuff that many in your mouth.”
John chewed some more and after a few swallows, he managed to down the nachos. Then he took another swig from the bottle and let out a little belch.
“And it’s not just that they believe in you. But they look up to you too. And they regard you as their hero.”
“That means the same thing.”
“Ok, I guess it does. But it doesn’t change the fact that you are their source of encouragement.”
John slowly devoured some more nachos and ranks some more from the bottle. He hiccupped and ate some more.
“Think what you want. But because of you, people still have hope. I don’t think anyone else could have done a better job than you.”
“Thank you for those very touching words. But you fail to see the point that I don’t care.” John was being sarcastic and sounded slightly angry.
“You just don’t get it do you. Humanity believes in you, and because of that they still fight. Even if it’s a losing battle. You may think you’ve failed them all, but you have actually saved them.”
John didn’t answer. He just fiddled in his pocket, took out his wallet and dumped some money on the counter.
“If you were in my position. What would you think?”
He slowly stumbled out of the bar and walked off. The bartender didn’t move. Wondering if John would ever recover from what was happening.
“God Damn you John. Why are you doing this yourself?”

Chapter 11: War zone Part 1: The fight commences
Once more, alarms went off and sirens blared throughout High Command. The enemy was launching an attack on Harmonia from all sides. They were going to use everything they had to surround the capital, and then break through its weak points. And from there they would make their advance into the capital. The outer perimeter was a think reinforced concrete and steel wall five meters think. It took the full three years to construct, along with the city. But because of combined efforts from everyone, Harmonia could be constructed. It took three years to get this far, and now it was about to be torn apart.
John began giving out orders from inside the command room. Men and woman ran back and forth with reports coming in. Natalie was there too, helping John relay orders. There was one true agenda here, and that was to evacuate all civilians from Harmonia. Thought not everyone wanted to leave. 19% of all people decided to stay and fight for their homes. Banding together to hold off the enemy. But they were untrained and had no chance on the frontline. So even though they wanted to be out their fighting, they were forced to stay and guard the shuttle launch bays.
“… Sergeant! You get your troops over there now and reinforce that wall. We can’t have them destroy our power stations. Our Iron cannon will be helpless if that happens.” Ordered John.
“Right away sir!” Replied the soldier.
John had changed his mood. Rather than being all gloomy he had become a stern in control soldier again. The other recognized this and the effect rubbed off on some.
“John, we’ve got reports of aircraft coming from the Western Wing.”
“Give the order to launch aircraft to intercept.”
Natalie had been frantically trying to relay all orders back and forth. She was beginning to sweat from the extra work. And she wasn’t the only one. People all over were running around trying to do their job as best they could.
“Natalie. As soon as they breach the inner section, I want you to send one more order. ‘Fall back to shuttle launch zone. Total evacuation in attempt’. And then I want you to run. Can you do that for me.”
“And are we going to just leave you behind here?”
“I’ll finish off just a few more things, then I’ll be right behind you.”
Natalie nodded and went back to her work. She was still very worried, but John had regained that look in his eye that showed he was full of determination. She felt awkwardly safe.
“Commander,” Said a voice from a woman behind him, “We have reports that the enemy has destroyed Iron cannon 3.”
“Damn them. Reinforce that region.”
She nodded and moved off to relay the order.
“That’s one down. Hopefully they’ll hold out for longer than this. We need them to provide cover from the air.”
Harmonia had seven Iron cannons. Each one could fire out an immense 7. calibre shell. Then be reloaded for another shot in only 30 seconds. And not only that, but almost anything that fitted into it could be fired. This improvement solved many ammunition problems.
Natalie flicked on an intercom, “This is high command to Rhino Squad. Enemy is breaching your sector. Move your units back to tank zone and hold them from there.”
“Roger that.”
Harmonia had four main paths for the enemy to get in through. These were heavily reinforced with whatever could be used to hold the enemy off. To defend these soldiers had been divided into eight squads: Rhino, Viper, Barracuda, Eagle, Shark, Phoenix, Raptor and Cobra. Four of these squads were placed closer to the main wall and the other four were placed deeper in. The walls provided a great defence, and until they broke through, the soldiers on the other side could use the mounted weapons safely.
“Cobra, your forces are overextended. Close your position.”
“Right away.”
“You’re doing good Natalie. Keep it up.”
“Thanks.”
Thought John was acting calm and confident, it was making Natalie feel very uneasy. Yesterday John was all gloomy and pale. Now he was enthusiastic and firm. Natalie shoved away the thoughts and refocused on her job. She was doing an important job now and didn’t want to mess up.

* * *

Zander shouted for more soldiers to move up. The humans had defended themselves well behind the walls of the capital. If they were to break through then they had to use tactic.
“Sir. We’ve almost broken through the wall. And the enemy have begun to fall back.”
Zander had been promoted two more times in the last week after he escaped. The Leader seemed to have been keeping a close eye on him and was recognizing his achievements. Zander was now a warrior 3rd class. Also known as a captain. So now he was able to command his own unit. Bt he still followed the orders of the several superiors.
“Prepare to move in. I want all units to stand buy at the wall. Once its blown, I want support fire so our tanks can move in. Await more orders after that.”
“Right away. You heard the captain, move out.”
Zander followed them. It felt great to be in command. He was placing all his devotion into effectively using the soldiers under his command.
Overhead the battle was increasing. A massive dogfight had broken out between allied Raptors and the enemy’s own aircraft. It was a spectacular sight to behold as aircraft darted around dodging missiles and gunfire. Zander wondered what it would be like to fly in the seat of a Raptor.
“Explosives are set. Radio into command that Gamma is ready when they are.”
The attack on the capital was set up in a well thought out way. There were four points of advantage where you could move in on the city. These all lead up to the shuttle launch bays. That was the target, to capture the launching bays to be used with the attack on Orion. But to get there, all forces had to break through the wall.
The entire force had been arranged into groups. Alpha attacked from the south. Gamma attacked from the West. Charlie attacked from the North. And Foxtrot from the East. The plan was succeeding so far. Only Foxtrot had to plant their explosives.
“Order just came in. Foxtrot has planted the explosives. Prepare to blow the wall in five… four… three… two… one…”
Zander got down low and shielded his face and the loud boom sounded, followed quickly by an explosive burst and rubble. Advances couldn’t go immediately since the rubble was littering the area. Making it impossible to get in without being struck down. But once it cleared, the attack commenced.
“Ok warriors. Give support fire. Make it easier for those tanks.” Ordered Zander.
The soldiers under his command moved in to the sides of the hole and began laying down fire. The enemy was still well entrenched, but that where the tanks came in. Once they made it, the attack would be full scale as they blasted their way to the centre.
“Keep at it. You’re doing well. Don’t let them destroy our tanks!

Chapter 12: War zone Part 2: Harmonia breached
“John, word has just got in. The enemy has destroyed sections of the wall and is advancing with tanks! What should I do?”
“Give the order to fall back to point B. Let our artillery deal with the enemy advance. In fact, give the order now for the artillery to lay down support fire so our troops can fall back safely.”
“Right away.”
Natalie began to hand out the new orders while John contacted the air defence coordinator.
“Lieutenant. The enemy has breached the walls. I want you to make defending the power stations your top priority. Keep in flight until I say otherwise.”
“We’ll give ‘em hell.”
John shifted in his chair. He rubbed his chin and thought for a second.
“AI, give me satellite images of the four points of entry.”
“Now realigning satellite. Images in eight seconds.”
“Sir. The last civilian shuttle has launched.” Said a man who hastily moved about the room.
“Good. That means we don’t have to worry as much now. Its just soldiers and voluntary forces left. AI. Send orders for shuttles to return. Make sure they’re running from AI control. I don’t want any people coming back down into the heart of hell.”
“Now relaying orders. Satellite uplink established.”
Four screens winked on showing the entry points. The enemy had used a very good strategy, exploding the walls then using troops to lay down the support for the tanks so they could destroy entrenched positions.
“John, Barracuda is wearing thin. They don’t have much left.”
“Send on order for all their forces to retreat to safety.”
“All units in Barracuda Squad retreat to inner blockade. Repeat, all units Barracuda Squad retreat to inner blockade.”
Another man came up to John. “Sir, Viper Squad has just announced that they have eliminated all enemies at the North wall. They await orders.”
John looked at the image of that sector. “AI, are there any more enemy forces at the North wall?”
“Scanning……… All enemies have retreated from the North wall.”
“Ok then. AI, continue to update satellite feed. Corporal, give the order for Viper to reinforce Barracuda.”
“Yes commander.”
John was pleased. The enemies at the North wall had been cleared. This meant that he could place Viper squad at the Eastern wall and help defend it. This battle was long from over. John was going to make sure that the enemy didn’t obtain an easy win. Even if it killed him.

* * *

The squad continued its advance. The enemy was proving to be annoyingly resilient. But Zander held fast and slowly progressed his squad further and further up the main road. A lot of his unit had been taken out and three out of ten tanks had been lost. It was getting extremely dangerous.
“Captain. We just got new orders. Charlie has been completely overwhelmed, and forced to retreat. Their forces have joined on with us. But we have to hold our advance. Orders say we are going to have to find shelter. We progress only when we receive the order. And halt likewise.”
“Thank you. We’ll begin those orders now. Send the message to seek shelter deeper into the structures.”
The soldier moved off to send the order to others, while Zander re-explained the objective. They then moved off to take shelter. They needed to dig themselves in deep because of artillery fire. Zander was getting anxious now. This battle was beginning to prolong.

Chapter 13: War zone Part 3: Prolonged
The battle had gone on for seven hours now. Everyone was tired from the running around. But the enemy hadn’t bothered to advance for an hour now so everyone felt like they could relax for a while. As long as the enemy didn’t advance, then there was nothing to worry about. This also allowed for the regrouping of troops and defences. The air unit was also able to refit and resupply too.
“So John. Do you still think we have no hope in survival? Because I think we’ve made some pretty impressive progress here.”
John leaned in close to Natalie and pretended to being saying something personal to her. “I still feel that there’s no hope. But you’re right. We’ve pulled off a very impressive feat here.”
“So you agree that we still have a fair chance.”
“Oh no. These humanoids are superior. You’ll see. We can’t spare Harmonia from falling. And what chance do we have with taking back Orion?”
John sat back up again. “Of course we can celebrate our brief triumph.” John was acting as if they were discussing their victory over defending Harmonia. “Send out the order for everyone to receive extra rations. In fact, let then have as much as they want.”
Everyone started to sound more cheerful as the order for the rations to be eaten at his or her own will was sent out. Natalie smiled. She knew he was doing this because Harmonia was going to fall way before they ran out of food. But she didn’t care.
“Shall I go make us a coffee?”
“Nah. Besides. We aren’t allowed to leave our position in case the enemy attacks again. And besides, “John reached down under his chair and pulled out s small crate. “We’ve got champagne.”

* * *

Zander peered over the barricade they had erected. He couldn’t see the enemy properly. So he picked up the binoculars for a closer look. The humans were eating. But not only that, they seemed completely relaxed. Even though their last city had become a battlefield, they still managed to be enjoying themselves. This made him slightly amused. Had they just lost their minds, or were they’ll being stupid. Or perhaps it was a diversion.
Zander leaned against a wall. They had little rations to eat. And even though resupplies managed to sneak in every now and then, there wasn’t enough to feed the entire army. His stomach grumbled and he took a bite out of the hard and chewy meat bar. His gut wasn’t in agreement with this food. It made him envious that the humans had such large amounts of real food while they had processed junk.
“Are there any new orders yet? I’m getting pretty tired of waiting.”
“No sir. It still says to hold position and get rest. I think they’re waiting for morning to continue the attack.”
Zander slumped down against the wall. He was feeling tired. It was probably seven hours until dawn. He closed his eyes and began to think of what better things he could be doing. And among the thoughts came the in depth pictures of Gina and him making out.

Chapter 14: War zone Part 4: The fall of Harmonia
The attack began once more. This time, rather than the enemy advancing up the main road. The war zone had erupted inside buildings as soldiers from both sides moved through. The EUDF laying down suppression fire and, desperately trying to hold off the enemy from their positions. And the NER laying down support fire as they weaved in and out of buildings, trying to get closer and closer to the enemy.
Zander moved his squad up closer. Hunger was the only thing that slowed their progress, but that was not enough to stop them. Zander was defiantly a good captain, with all the soldiers under his command motivated by his high spirits and determination.
The human forces dug themselves in deep and among those in the Southern wing were relying on air support to slow the advance. But it was not holding. The NER still had an overwhelming advantage, and through the night, more tanks had made their way inside the walls. Giving them more advantage.
“Come on you maggots! I wanted that tank destroyed half an hour ago. Move, move, move! Shoot damn it don’t stare!”
Zander observed curiously at this soldier. He shouted commands constantly his soldiers. Though it caused others to move too quickly and occasionally stumble, it was effective and kept all under his command on their toes.
“Good! Now take out the next tank! Come one, load the gun, what are you pussies?”
Zander shook his head and pointed for his unit to advance under the cover of the debris. They hadn’t been seen yet, but one mistake would give them away and put their lives in mortal danger. They managed to move closer. Zander could see the entrance now. Once through there, it would be victory. The enemy would have to retreat, and because we were there, that was not going to be easy. But then again, the enemy still had the air support.
“Await the order to move in. Once we get it. Fight like you’ve never fought before. And if you’re already doing that, then fight even harder!”

* * *

It was getting chaotic now. But everyone kept their cool as much as they could. The enemy was extremely close now.
“Sir, shall we give the order to retreat?”
John pondered for a moment. He was still observing the satellite images. The enemy was hard to see now they were hidden. Which made his efforts futile.
“Ok. Give the order to begin retreat.
“Yes sir.”
Natalie looked up him. “Shall I send that order now?”
“Yes Natalie, I believe that’s it is time.”
Natalie nodded in confirmation and began to relay the order throughout the entire of the EUDF at Harmonia.
“All units fall back to shuttle launch zone. Final evacuations are in attempt.”
Natalie stood up. “Did we really need the ‘attempt’ at the end?”
“Well it’s obvious we may not be able to make the final evacuation. So it has to be an attempt. At least that’s how the file will put it, so why not say it?”
The room began to look in shock at their computers. They were receiving one message that interrupted all others. The one that Natalie had just sent.
“Well? You got the order. Now all of you follow it!”
The room was still in shock, but nerveless, followed the order. Natalie was the last to exit. She didn’t wan to leave John behind.
“I thought I told you to run?”
Natalie turned around and sprinted away. Leaving John alone.
“AI. I have one more command for you.”

* * *

Natalie ran. All around her was disorder. The order was even displayed on the massive screens throughout the city. That meant the NER would see it. So now they were going to be even more eager to move in and attack. The order was crazy!
Soldiers ran passed her. Stopping only to take aim and wait for more soldiers to arrive. They were covering each other as they retreated. This at least made Natalie feel safer. But she knew she could hold her own with out them. She was tough.
“Damn it John. What are you doing?”
Shuttles were taking off, each one going shortly after the other. Natalie clutched her gut. She was worried more than normally. She regretted not saying anything earlier. But she knew that John would come. She could say what was needed then.
“Get down!” Yelled a soldier.
A hail of bullets went by as soldiers fired back at the quickly advancing enemy. Natalie was getting very tired. She needed a break, but she was almost there and didn’t stop until she made it.
She made it to the launching bay. But rather than hop right on, she waited. Unless John was here, she wouldn’t leave. At least not until the final shuttle was going to leave.
“Come one, where the hell are you?”
A solider dropped next to her, startling her. She then wearingly picked up the gun and aimed it at the door. A humanoid appeared and was instantly shot from her steady aim.
“Get moving John.”
Then a hand came down on her should, causing her to jump. She turned to see John.
“What are you doing?! Get on the shuttle, the last ones are about to leave.”
He guided her over, three more shuttles taking off. There was few left.
“John we need to talk.”
“Later, get moving for now.”
Natalie bit her lower lip and whimpered. It was getting crazy now.
“Get in.” john shoved her towards the shuttle and she stumbled in. Then he closed the door. Natalie was shocked by this move. He couldn’t get if it was closed.
She opened the door. “John, get on.”
“I’m sorry Natalie.” He closed the door but Natalie persisted to open it again.
“John, get on. This is the last shuttle.”
“I’m not coming Natalie.”
“What!”
“I have to do this.”
“But John. I need to talk with you. Urgently.”
John shoved her in and she continued to open the door. John was getting angry.
“Natalie, stay inside the shuttle!”
“John, I have to tell you something. Get in!”
John wasn’t listening. He kept trying to push her in.
“Natalie!”
“John. Please come! You can’t stay behind.” She was getting frightened.
John closed the door again and Natalie once more opened it. The people inside the shuttle were getting scared now. The shuttle wouldn’t take off until the door had closed. Natalie didn’t know what to say to get him on. So she chose to say what she had planned to say at a better moment.
“John, I’m…”
John shoved her back on with a mighty push, closed the door and then shot the lock. He watched as Natalie tried frantically to open it. She screamed as she looked down at John. People restrained her as John watched the shuttle begin to take off.
Natalie kicked and threw herself around. She wanted to stay with him. But she couldn’t. The shuttle couldn’t be stopped. All she could do was watch him stand there, and she saw something that she never had before with him. He was crying. She got free and looked down at him, almost falling over as the shuttle took off. Then explosions erupted from the Iron cannons.
“No John you didn’t.”
Harmonia erupted into a dazzling dance of flame as the bombs planted under the Iron cannons began to erupt across the city. Taking the enemy with it.

Chapter 15: Humanities last hope
Natalie huddled down at the rear of the shuttle. The others had all sat down, and occasionally looked at her. Feeling sorry. They also felt sorry for John. He chose to stay there, and Natalie knew why.
Because the enemy was after the launching bays so they could reach Orion. They had to be manually overwritten so they that they would be rendered permanently unusable. But rather than just destroy the launching bays only. He destroyed all of Harmonia. He chose to stay and finish off anything that was left. He knew he would die down there. And yet he stayed. Because he was a hero would give his own life just so others may live. He was a true hero.
Natalie wiped her face and stood up. Looking out at the distant stars. She thought of the time when she first went to Orion. It was a new and exiting experience for her. And she remembered John, curiously looking back down at Earth. It was possibly the best moment she had ever spent with him. A single moment where there was no war or chaos. It was just she and John spending a brief moment of peace with each other.
It made her cry more to remember such things. And it hurt her inside, like knives stabbing into her heart. She stared out into the endless black, trying to stop crying. She had to be strong. Humanity had been given a better chance of survival because of John’s sacrifice. And she knew what she had to do. John was the leader of the EUDF, but that was no more now. There was still the Orion Defence Core, but that was just law enforcement for Orion.
Natalie regained herself and decided what she needed to do. She would take control of the EUDF, regardless of what anyone said. Continuing to keep humanity alive was what motivated her, but this time, for the first time she was motivated by vengeance. Vengeance for the war and everyone that had made life so difficult, and the deepest of hate for the mutants that forced her husband to get himself killed.

* * *

Zander managed to finally shove away the rubble that he had been working on for at leas an hour. When the Iron cannons of Harmonia exploded. He had barely any time to seek shelter. He managed get inside a building that had collapsed already and that shielded him from the explosions. His unit, however, were not as fortunate. Most of his unit was killed after the enemy had begun to evacuate. And the remaining few was finished off by debris.
The sound of engines could be heard coming along the main road. Was it humans? He hid behind some rocks and peered over. The trucks came into view. It was humanoid forces. They appeared to be searching for survivors. Zander smiled and ran over to the truck. Some soldiers hopped off almost immediately to help him. He looked back down the road to see that there were many more trucks coming up. And many injured soldiers on them. He went around to the rear and climbed on with the others. There were soldiers with wounds of all sorts. Some looked to be on the brink of death.
“How long has it been since the explosions?’
A soldier looked up at the sky, trying to pin point its location. He then looked at Zander and shrugged.
“It’s been almost an hour and a half.”
Zander looked around. The Leader was there. He quickly snapped a salute, as did the others, but he waved his hand for them to stop.
Zander was curious that the Leader was here. Wouldn’t he de back at the citadel looking through the reports from there?
“Sir, if you don’t mind me asking. How come you’re here and not at the citadel?”
The Leader looked at Zander, then smiled.
“I’m observing the aftermath. That’s all.” He sounded like he was hiding a hidden agenda. But Zander decided not to ask any more questions.
The Leader continued to walk off towards the main gate. He looked to be heading towards the shuttle launch bay but why. It seemed like he was searching for something. Zander looked back down at the other trucks and observed the surroundings. Much damage had been done. He looked back at where the Leader was before, but he had disappeared inside.

* * *

Natalie walked over to the meeting room. There was a discussion already in effect about the present matter. She wanted to inform them of her decision. The one that she was going to assume full control over the remainder of human race.
She startled the people inside as she forced the doors open. She moved over to the largest chair, the one that John would normally sit at. Everyone seemed confused, only the Commander sat in that chair.
“Excuse me, but what do you think your doing barging into here like that?”
Natalie gave a piercing stare at the man. Then began to speak.
“Due to our present situation, I am assuming full control over the remainder of the human forces stationed here on Orion.”
People started to murmur again and a man stood up to tell her off.
“You can not assume control over the EUDF. Nor can you take control over the ODC. And that’s not the only reason, your not even qualified for such a job. You’re only a Officer and you’re a scientist.”
Natalie narrowed her eyes at the man. He must have seen the rage in her eyes as he nervously sat back down and didn’t say another word. Then a woman began to speak.
“Look. John may have allowed you to take on serious commands when he was with you. But so long as you’re not under his direct supervision, you are not permitted to do such. Now, there is a perfectly good seat right here for you. I’m sure that seat will be taken by the Commander soon enough.”
Natalie’s eyes flared. “John is dead!”
The room was in shock. There was complete silence for a moment, and then people began to mutter and whisper to each other.
“What accusations do you have to say that?” Asked a bald headed man.
“I saw him. He self-destructed Harmonia then he manually destroyed the launch bays so that the mutants couldn’t get to Orion.”
The room was silent once more. Everyone looked at Natalie, then at others, then at Natalie again. They were trying to decide if what she said was true. They didn’t seem to believe it. But they would have to believe her. Why would she lie about her own husband dying?
“So you’re sure he’s dead.”
“YES DAMN IT!” Natalie was getting angry at the constant questions. She wanted to lash out at someone, but that wouldn’t help her situation.
“This is indeed a great loss,” Began the bald headed man, “With John dead. Then we have no-one to reorganize the army.”
“That’s not true. He may be dead. But I’m still around, and I know almost every plan he had for humanity.”
The room stared at her again.
“I’m his wife remember. I know these things. Plus I can access his personal files.”
A man that had been quietly watching her stood up. It was General Sanders.
“I knew John very well. We were very good friends. And I know Natalie.” The room watched silently for what he would say next. “We’ll allow her to run the remainder of the EUDF. But we’ll take control over the ODC for the time being. If she does a good job then she’ll be able to maintain her position. If she doesn’t then it’ll back to being a scientist again.”
The General had a lot of authority right now. He was the only General that made it off the surface. And there were quite a few new scars on his face and a bandage around his head to show just what he went through.
Everyone agreed to his decision. Natalie would stay in control so long as she could do the job properly. And it seemed like that was just what she was going to do. She wanted to be in control because that was her best chance of getting revenge.

Chapter 16: Survival of the fittest
After the fall of Harmonia, and the full evacuation of the human race to Orion. Humanity was forced to give up almost every attempt to regain control from the NER forces that closely monitored all that happened on the surface. There was nothing that could be done. But luckily, since the NER did not have immediate access to spacecraft. They have been unable to attack again.
Orion stayed hovering above Earth with its remaining people waiting for an attack that could come at any moment. But it never did. And rather than this relieving everyone, it made them more alert and afraid because they didn’t know what was going to happen next.
For five years the human race was forced to stay up in Orion. With Natalie Cross doing everything she could to keep it all in order. Almost immediately after gaining control, she put all available scientists to work on improving society. Using the information she had learned from an NER captive she met back on Earth, she was able to improve the rate in which food supplies came in. Water recourses were also kept in control. Not only that, but the damaged section of Orion from the fifth world war was finally repaired and turned into more residential zones. Allowing for the population to grow for a longer period of time.
Before the fifth world war (21/5/2295), earth had a population of more than 12 billion. After it had ended (11/2/2305), there was less than 15 million. The population had little time to repair itself before the sixth world war against the NER’s (21/1/2307). Over the two and a half months of battle, Earth had been stripped down to a threatening 1 million. And almost half of that was finished off defending Harmonia from the final attack. After the evacuation there was 667,531 residents on Orion. A number that threatened the very existence of the human race.
This aspect made it more crucial than ever to stop an epidemic. On the 12/4/2310 a flu epidemic started up. Affecting 73% of all people. The flu started off slight, where the subject had an irregular temperature that would go 2 above or below normal. Then, if not treated, after around a week, the flu increased rapidly in strength. Causing the subject to vomit, cough, have nosebleeds and tiredness. In extreme cases, the subject experienced an extreme pressure on the heart, which sometimes led to a heart attack or seizure.
It took almost two months to combat it. It killed off 23% of the total population, leaving only 447,245. This brings it to the current recorded population at present (17/6/2312) to only 447,262.
During the present year, a vaccine had been produced to increase the immune system by 40%. Enough to stop any current known virus or disease. But what was kept in the vaccine was kept secret from almost everyone. For what was in it would have been enough to stop anyone from receiving the vaccine. It contained traces of T24A12, or better known as Chemical Methridite. The same one that caused the mutant outbreak in the first place.
Everyone knew of the chemical and its deadly effects, and that was the given reason for taking the improved version of the antidote for chemical-M. This was crucial to help the survival of the human race while still down on earth. Since as long as infectious mutants were around, there was the chance of being infected.
It was during the flu epidemic that the subject of using an antidote containing the chemical was introduced. But it was outlawed. Rather than put all their efforts into perfecting it, they decided to rely on perfecting other methods to stop the epidemic. But after two years of partitioning from Dr. Cross, the experimental use of the chemical was allowed, but it still had to go through many tests before it was allowed. It took almost a year, but Dr Cross finally managed to perfect it. So long as the antidote vaccine was already introduced, the new vaccine could be safely administered into the blood stream without causing mutation.
The success of the new vaccine improved the life of all people on Orion. And after a short time, it even appeared to maintain its original intended effects. That is to turn a organism into a superhuman. But the effects were subtle. Really only increasing immunity and life expectancy. But some subjects gained strength and agility benefit from it as well.
This impressed those that knew about it. And the vaccine was given clearance for further testing. This was the chance Dr. Cross had been waiting for. Now that she could do further testing on it, she could place it towards the original use. She was going to make super humans. An illegal thing to do, but with her present position, such things had little control over her. But she kept it small. Using only subjects that agreed and signed the forms for it. These were people who had a bitter hatred for the NER. People like Natalie who had lost everything and had nothing else to lose. People who were willing to do anything to get revenge.

Chapter 17: Experiment
“Are you comfortable?” Asked Natalie.
“Yes.” Replied the man.
“Ok. Injecting Chemical-M Version 3.4”
The man stayed still while the 10ml of the perfected version of Chemical-M entered his body. Then the mechanical arm wielding the syringe moved away.
“Ok. Now how are you feeling?”
The man wriggled around a bit. Sort as if he was checking to see if all his body parts were working.
“Yes. I feel quite fine.”
“Excellent. You can go an relax now.”
The man slipped off the bench and went through a door into the recuperation room. Natalie rested herself on the table in front of her. Things had gone successful so far. She had 16 candidates and each of them had been successfully administered with the Chemical. Her first subject had had the chemical administered almost an hour ago, and didn’t seem to have shown any signs of change yet.
When she was still working down in the laboratories for the IFE trying to make a superhuman with what they thought was a new element. But after the fight where her husband was forced to kill his own father, she had found out that his father himself had only planted it there. Robertson Cross.
She picked up her mug and drained the remaining coffee inside. Then walked off to put away the left over Chemical-M. It seemed strange to be still working on something that had finished so many years ago. But she knew that it had to be done.
“Doctor! Come quick. Something’s happening to David!”
Natalie raced into the room to find the man known as David rolling on the ground in agony.
“We need to do something!” Said another man.
Natalie thought about what to do. She had antidotes, but she didn’t know if they would work on the improved version of the chemical.
“Hang on a second. I wont be a moment!”
She darted off back into the laboratory and started rummaging through the vile chambers for the antidote. She finally found it then placed it into a syringe and ran back to where the man was. She burst through the door, getting ready to try and inject the antidote. But was held back by two men.
“It’s alright doctor. He’s fine.”
Sure enough the man that had just been in agony, was now standing up and jumping up and down with a big grin on his face.
“What? But you were just. Hey, if this is some sort of joke I haven’t found it funny.”
“It wasn’t a joke doc. I was really in pain for a second then. Like my insides were tearing themselves apart. But now I haven’t felt better. I feel like I could run fifty laps around Orion before I get tired! In fact, I might just do that now!” The man stopped jumping, leaped over three of the men who had been watching him and went for the door.
“Stop right there!” Demanded Natalie.
The man skidded to a halt. Sliding into the door as he did.
“You are not to leave this area unless I say so. Now go over there and sit down for a while. You other fifteen, I want you to go in there and get ready. I’m going to strap you all down so you don’t hurt yourselves. The Chemical is finally starting to take effect.”

* * *

With in the hour. Each man had begun to squirm around, yelling and clenching his teeth. All of them in sequence with being injected had begun to take effect from the chemical. Some of them actually broke the restraints as it happened. But in less than a minute they had relaxed and claimed to be feeling better than before.
Once the last man had returned to normal, Natalie began some simple test. She took them to the stadium and made them run laps for half an hour, which they all did without tiring. They were made to lift extensive amounts weight with all of them exhibiting different amounts, two of them being able to lift a whole car above their heads. Then she tested their reflexes. Making them take buzzer tests for example. Their sight had also greatly improved and after combining it with a weapon, they showed just how quick they were. The first successful super humans had finally been made using Chemical-M.
Her final plan had now come to be. All she need do was get the support she needed and from there, the plan to retake Earth could begin.

Chapter 18: Preparation
Natalie woke up in the middle of the night. Or at least what the holographic roof of Orion said was night. Her clock said 12:05. A little girl tugging on her bed sheets had waked her.
“Oh, its you Nicky. What’s the matter? Can’t you sleep?”
“I had a bad dream.”
“Is that it? Well don’t you worry, because it was only a dream, and we all know dreams can’t hurt us.” Natalie brushed her daughters hair back off her face and gave a comforting look.
“It was scary. I don’t want to sleep alone.”
Natalie smiled and then helped her daughter up into a sitting position on the edge of the bed.
“Was it really that bad? Would it make you feel better if you told me?”
Nicky stared at the floor then hugged her bear and nodded.
“Well you go ahead and tell me what it was that scared you so much.”
“There was this big dark room. And there was voices. And this really tall glass tube.” Nicky began to shiver so Natalie wrapped an arm around her to provide more comfort.
“And there was this tall person made of metal. And then it yelled really loud and broke out. And chased me. And it yelled out your name.”
Natalie froze for a second. Her heart had sped up a bit and her hand began to shake. Something about what her daughter just described brought back memories from the past, as well as images of things she didn’t understand. She regained herself and began rubbing Nicky’s back.
“Well there you go. Does it feel better to have told me?”
Nicky nodded slightly.
“Well then there’s nothing to fear then. Because you’re safe here so long as I’m around. Now how about we go back to bed.”
Nicky seemed to try and stay where she was, but hopped off the bed and was carried to her room by Natalie.

* * *

The next day, Natalie left to go to a meeting early in the morning. Leaving Nicky at the day care centre with her friends. The little five-year-old was a shockingly quick child. She thought fast and acted before others could keep up with her. Others would have just thought of it that she was gifted, but Natalie believed it had something to do with having parents who were superhuman. Not so much Natalie, but John. He had taken great effect and changed rapidly due to the exposure to Chemical-M. He was a true superhuman, just like his father had become.
The meeting was being held on the issue Natalie had brought up. The one about preparing an attack to retake Earth. It was a touchy subject still since most believed that the human race did not have enough resources to take it back. But Natalie had a plan to do it. One that really only needed a small amount of reinforcement.
Her plan was to head down there in another improved creation. A Drop ship that was capable of entering Earth’s atmosphere like the shuttles could. But also be able to escape Earths gravity and get back to space afterwards without the need of a launching ramp. She would take her squad of super-soldiers, leading them herself right into the heart of the NER citadel. Their objective was to kill the NER leader and force the humanoids to surrender. Having their chain of command been cut. Because their forces still greatly outnumbered the human on a scale of twenty to one, she planned on launching nukes to destroy their key locations.
Thanks to satellites, all NER movement could be monitored. And over the last five years, not much had been done. They had expanded their citadel throughout the Amazon. South America was almost completely covered by the citadel. All it took was a couple of well placed nukes, then an attack right in the centre to take control again. From there, the human race could begin to retake control over Earth.
She sat down in her chair and looked around at the people sitting around it also. There was General Sanders, who remained her biggest supporter. Sergeant Hobson, one of the Harmonia survivors, he was also skilled in many things and had a deep Russian accent. He was one of three Sergeants that lived. Doctor Newman, Casey and Friedreich were there. And finally Xavier Forson, the head official on Orion. He was going to be the toughest to get support from. He always had a sharp look in his eye. These people formed the council. And she needed four out of six votes from them to be able to go ahead with her plan.
“Ok. Here is my proposition. We have been stuck up here in space for far too long now. It is time we make our move and retake what was stolen from us. I have the plan already thought out, and am prepared to follow it all the way.”
“So you’re suggesting we attack the NER? With what may I ask?” Commented Sergeant Hobson.
Natalie smiled, “We have some very unique candidates that will come with me into the heart of the enemy citadel to assassinate the leader.”
“What?! Attack them at their strongest point! And doing it yourself. And who might be these candidates?” Demanded Xavier.
Natalie wasn’t about to tell them of her experiments. But she thought up a liable excuse. “16 people who received the vaccine that have exhibited the most outstanding development have volunteered. They are willing and well trained.”
“That’s impossible,” began doctor Casey. “It’s been almost a year since then and we haven’t seen any outstanding changes.
“These 16 have all come to me about wired feelings they had been happening only a week ago. I did some tests and came up with a change in their DNA. Not a bad one, a similar one that John had. One that has turned them practically superhuman.”
They al looked curiously at her. This is just what she wanted. Now she just had to convince them.
General Sanders spoke, “To attack the enemy at their heart is suicide. As is launching a full assault from the outside. How would you be able to get in there to start with?”
“I have thought out the solution. If we send tactical nukes at the outer perimeter of the citadel, we can destroy their primary defence, allowing a squad to go down via our improved drop ships and attack them.”
The room was in slight shock and even more curiosity. Natalie had asked to do some crazy things before, but this one took the cake.
“What makes you think that sending you down with a squad of your… super human’s will help our situation? We should be keeping our focus on surviving up here.” Complained Xavier sarcastically.
Just as she had anticipated, he was going against what she said. And he was going to try and convince the others to follow his decision. But Natalie had it thought out long before she came to the meeting.
“Humanity is in danger of dying up here. How much longer do you think we can survive up here? Our resources aren’t unlimited you realize, no matter what we do. And it’s been five years since we evacuated to here. And the NER has greatly expanded their control over South America. They’ve been biding their time to make an efficient attack force. And sooner or later they will attack us. And we will have no chance then. All it takes is one well-placed missile and it’s all over. Don’t you see what our situation is? We just can’t risk waiting to die up here for any longer.” She had gained the attention of everyone, and some seemed to be agreeing with her. This was good. “I don’t want what’s left of our people to die like that anymore than you do. And I don’t want them to suffer up here either.” She breathed in deeply and exhaled. Making it seem like this was the only chance they had by doing so. And once more, it seemed to be working. “I know the risks of such a mission. But if we can just pull it off we can finally have the chance to live in peace on the surface again. We will finally be able to see the real sky, and the real sun. And have a real breeze blow by us as our children run and play in the fields. Don’t you think that that is a far better future than this? Don’t you think that the risk is really worth it?”
The room peered around to see what the reactions of the others were. They were deciding. Their decision would come now.
General Sanders stood up. “Well Dr. Cross. I don’t really know if this is the best plan we have ever had. But it does seem like this is our best chance. You have my support.”
The others nodded their head and began to stand up and announce their support. Once more, as predicted, Xavier was the last to stand. Then he sighed and stood up.
“Ok, you have my support on this. I hope you realize that this’ll likely be the last thing you’ll ever do.”
Natalie half smiled. “I know. And I thank you all for your support. We’ll have a debriefing session tomorrow at 1100 hours. And then we’ll commence the mission later on.” Natalie stopped smiling. “And General. If I should die, you’ll be in charge. And look after my daughter for me could you.”
“I hope that such things will not need to be done. But if it comes to that, I shall do my best.”
“Thank you.”
They all exited the room and Natalie leaned back in the chair. And just after the door had closed, a twisted and evil smile crossed her face.

Chapter 19: Commence, Operation Black Thorn
The debriefing ended and they all began to head to the dropship’s, with Natalie’s squad in tow. The attack was reader and Orion had shifted its orbiting closer so that it could launch the nukes. Minutes after that, the dropships would descend and deliver the squad straight into their heart.
Information on the attack had spread throughout Orion. And soldiers had amassed for the debriefing. There were many that wanted to fight also. But they were explained to that it could not happen. The mission was too dangerous to risk more lives. Even though the lives at risk were already too much.
It had been tough for Natalie to be at the front of the assault. Not because it was dangerous beyond all measures, but because she had to explain to her daughter that she may not come back, and that someone else was going to be looking after her. The very thoughts of doing that were enough to make her cry, but she managed to pull it off. And thankfully enough, her daughter understood it and seemed more than capable with bearing it. She was a very strong willed child.
Natalie boarded the dropship, looking at the 7 other faces within. It was slightly crowded inside, but there were only two dropships that could go between Orion and Earth unaided. They were all well equipped for the mission, each standing tall with a look of determination. They were impressive to look at.
“Ok troops. The nukes have been launched. They’ll be impacting right about now, so that means we have to head off. I hope your ready for this.”
The dropship began to take off. She had chosen four of the EUDF’s best pilots for this mission. Each had proven them selves invaluable during the war against the NER. She had complete trust that they could land the dropship in record time without being shot down then leave just as quickly.
The dropship began to jerk about and wobble. And the temperature slowly began to rise.
“Hold onto your seat belts, this is going to be the ride of a life time!” Said a man over the intercom.
The dropship continued to jerk about and the temperatures finally reached their highest, which was 60 degrees Celsius. Then as they finally began to drop down as the ship entered the atmosphere. The dropship stabled itself and another message came over the intercom.
“This is Talon one, enemy citadel is in sites. Landing zone now being set on radar.”
“Roger that Talon two, now entered atmosphere, we’ll follow your lead.”
“Take heed Talon two, enemy had launched surface-to-air missiles, prepare for evasive manoeuvres.”
The intercom went dead for a while, then the dropship started to swing around and swerve as explosions began to go off next to it. The enemy was going to take down the dropships with everything they had. But they wouldn’t achieve it. Natalie knew that these pilots were far too skilled to be shot down by mere anti aircraft weapons.
“This is Talon two, enemy have begun to use heavy machine guns from 21 degrees South West and 43 degrees South East.”
“Have sighted enemy gun emplacements, suggest we decrease height to 120 meters.”
“Roger that, decreasing now.”
It was impressive to hear how well they all cooperated together. Natalie grinned and almost laughed at the thought of how scared the NER must be to have no chance of taking down two measly dropships.
“This is talon one, landing zone sighted, distance 1210 meters. Moving into landing sequence.”
“Confirmed that Talon one, enemy has launched heat seekers, will outmanoeuvre now.”
The line went dead for a second, followed by a sudden, “YEEHAAWWW!”
“This is talon two, enemy missiles have flown into ground, now entering landing sequence.”
“Roger that. Take note, Talon one has landed.”
Natalie felt the dropship rock as it hit the ground. Then she ripped off her belt and ran out the hatch at the rear, her gun at the ready. The other 7 followed closely and soon the second dropship had landed. The final 9 ran out the back and grouped up with Natalie.
“Ok troops. Here’s our plan. We don’t know what we’re up against down here, so I want you all to have full attention on your surroundings. Don’t just run in and out of places or you’ll be shot down.”
Natalie pointed to five men.
“I want you five to protect the dropships. Don’t worry I’m sure you’ll get plenty of chances to shoot. Do what you want but do not allow them to take our dropships. The rest of you follow me. Use secure line 21.44 for communications. Ok, move out!”
Natalie began to run off through a doorway. It didn’t open immediately so she shot the lock and that proved successful. The corridor they were in was rather wide and stretched on for a long distance. There were many doors on each side. An alarm as also going off and over the enemy intercom was the message, “Warning! Unknown enemies have infiltrated inner complex. Search and destroy unit is to dispatch immediately, repeat, search and destroy unit to be dispatched immediately!”
Natalie smiled at the sound of this, and so did some of her squad. It seemed like this mission was going to be fun after all.

* * *

Zander pulled his uniform over himself almost falling over as he did. Gina walked into the room carrying a small bottle.
“Drink some of this. It’s an energy drink. That should give you a quick pick up.”
Zander smiled, said thanks, and drained the whole bottle in only a few gulps. Almost choking because he did it too fast.
“Slow down you fool or you’ll pass out before you reach the door.”
“Sorry, but this is important. I have to get moving real quick!”
“I know, you can hear the message from all over the place. It’s terrible what’s happened. I hear most of the citadel has already been destroyed.” She grabbed Zander’s helmet and handed it to him. Then she sighed. “I guess we had it coming. The human’s obviously weren’t going to stay up there forever.”
She looked concerning at Zander who was placing his gun into his holster. He stopped and looked at her. Then smiled and gave her a long hug.
“Don’t worry. I’ve been on some real tough missions. How dangerous could this one be?” He tilted up her head so he could meet her gaze. “I will return to you. I promise.”
“You’ll keep it right?”
He gave her a quick kiss. “I will.”
He let go of her then hurried out the door. Gina stayed in the same spot for a while, and then finally sat down on the bench. She fiddled with the ring on her finger for a while. She smiled slightly, and then looked at the roof.
“I know you’ll come back. Just be alive when you do.”

* * *

Natalie finished taking out the last opponent in the room she entered. So far, resistance had been small and easy to pick off. It should have been much more difficult than this. She knew that as she moved deeper in, it soon would match her expectations.
So far, there had been no casualties and even injuries from her squad. And the only threat was a message saying that enemy flyers had tried to attack the dropships. But they too had been dealt with before permanent damage could be inflicted.
“This is taking too long. Split up. Jeff, David. You two come with me. The rest of you stick together. Sam, you’ll take command for your group.”
They all replied with a message saying that they understood and they went their separate ways. Natalie turned right down a corridor, while Sam led his new group left. She knew they’d be fine. They were more than a match for anything down here.
Suddenly a group emerged up ahead, and they were forced to move into a room before they were shot. Inside were many crates and boxes. A storage room, then some enemies appeared with some light weapons. They were dispatched easily, allowing her to focus on the enemy approaching.
The enemy burst through, blasting as they did, but Natalie had already set up a trap. She threw a grenade in front of the door, and once opened, took the enemies entering with it. They walked back out as soon as it was clear and continued down the corridor. Then a message came in.
“Commander, enemies have ambushed our group, their too many, highly trained too. We’ll retreat back to the corridor. Can you regroup with us?”
Natalie looked slightly angry, “Ok, we’ll meet you at the intersection where we split up. Don’t get shot down.”
“Roger th…” The line went dead.
“Damn! Sam, come in! Sam, can you hear me? SAM!” She slammed her fist against the wall and looked at Jeff and David. “Ok, we’ll double back and check out what happened. Keep your eyes open for anything.”
“Yes ma’am.” They replied.
They turned back and began to head to where the rest of the squad may have been. She needed everyone to make it through this. She needed all the help she could get.

Chapter 20: Reborn
The Leader entered the circular room and the lights immediately flicked on. The room was rather small, but its roof was high up. Some humanoids watched what was happening from an observation window higher up in the room, operating some computers and checking various readouts. In the very centre of the room was a large chamber in which the Leader stood not too far back from before eyeing it off.
“Remove the chamber casing.” Asked the Leader.
The metal case around the chamber began to open up, revealing a large man inside. But he was not completely man; both arms and legs seemed to have metal plates attached to the flesh itself, and an armour plate covered his chest. The man seemed to be floating in the chamber filled with water, with many things attached to him that were there to observe his heart rate, brain waves, and any other vital aspects.
“Begin reanimation sequence.”
Small jolts of electricity seemed to pulse through the thin stings attached to his chest and arms. Then the water inside began to bubble slightly. After around ten seconds, the mans eyes began to open. He seemed slightly delirious.
“Commence chamber cleansing.”
The water began to drain slowly and the man seemed to have regained himself and began to knock on the glass and thrash about. He almost fell over once the water that kept him upright was gone. He made himself stand them looked around. He reached the for a his face and began feeling the mask, then tried to pull it off, but before he did, the chamber filled with hot steam. He once again began thrashing about and finally calmed down after it was over. Then he tore off the mask, ripped off the things attached to him and began to bash on the glass.
“Open the chamber”
The glass began to move down into the ground, causing the man to push his back against the rear, but he almost feel through as there wasn’t glass there anymore either. The Leader slowly walked around him, observing him. The man appeared slightly afraid and worried.
“Everything seems in order. So, how are you feeling?”
The question flooded the mans mind, then came back with the answer. He coughed up a small amount of mucus, and then began to speak.
“What is going on? Who are you?”
The Leader stopped circling and stood in front of him. He laughed quietly, then walked closer to him.
“Perhaps this will jog your memory.” He knelt down close and stared straight into the mans eyes. “The Experiment…”
The words entered the mans mind and began to swell up, then from the back of his mind came a flooding horde of memories. Things he had seen, things he had done. Memories that hurt him, and ones that made him proud. Sad memories, happy memories, the whole lot ravaged right into his head. He fell forward into his knees, his hands on the back of his head. He screamed loudly as his head started to throb intensely. The Leader seemed amused by this, and took a few steps back to the door, Keeping his back turned.
“Does it hurt?” He smiled evilly. “Of course it hurts.”
The mans mind centred. And he looked up at the creature standing in front of him. He had immense urges to lash out and tear apart the creature, but he didn’t really know why. He was filled with a black hatred for this creature.
“Who… are you?”
The Leader turned around to face the man.
“Those around here refer to me as the Leader. But you don’t know that person at all. But perhaps you know this one. You may better know me as the one who revealed the truth to you.”
The mans mind began to swim again and finally found the memory he wanted. He remembered it all now. This creature was the one who followed him all throughout the time he was in the facility at the Amazon. And he had told him everything about his father, things he never wanted to know. Things that ended up forcing him to kill his own father.
“You bastard.” He knew now why he wanted to destroy him. “I’m going to kill you!”
The Leader simply laughed at this.
“Go ahead. Give it a try. It’ll be a perfect example of how well our new neural equipment works.”
The man scanned the Leader. Then tried to make an attack. But all he did was strain hard. He couldn’t attack. But why?
The Leader laughed. “Fool, we control you now. That neural equipment attached to your arms, legs and chest are under our control. You belong to us.”
He tried to force himself to attack again, but couldn’t find the strength.
“Why…?”
“Why? Because I decided to. Because I too want revenge, and what better way to do it than make you the very monster you tried to suppress.”
“Monster? No. I am not a monster. I am not like you! NO! NO! NO!”
He began to throw a tantrum, still trying to attack the Leader as he did. But all he could do was yell.
“Stand.”
The order came in and the metallic parts attached to him forced his muscles to tense and contract. Making him stand up straight.
“Good. It all works fine. You see, up there is the control room where we tell you what to do.” He smiled evilly again. “Now bow before me.”
The man stared at the Leader, “I will never bow before you.”
“You don’t have a say in the matter.”
His legs began to tense and he came down on one knee. His body began to bow, and he lifted his head and spat.
“You see, if you don’t do what your told. We can cause you much pain and agony. We can force you to do anything we want. Your ours to command.”
“You bastard.”
“Funny, very funny. Now stand.” His legs twitched, but this time he stood on his own, his head lowered. He was shammed. “I have a mission for you. An enemy unit has infiltrated our inner citadel. I want you to go and kill them. Leave none alive.”
“They’re humans, aren’t they.” Said the man without raising his head.
“Perhaps. It’s hard to tell since we haven’t seen a human for many, many years. We made sure that they were all extinct.”
The man lifted his head in shock.
“No. They can’t be. I destroyed the launch bays myself. You couldn’t have! It can’t have been that easy for you to get up there. I don’t see how… what year is it?”
The Leader smiled again, “It’s the year 2330. Your once great human race is long extinct.”
He couldn’t believe it. They were all dead. He looked down at the floor, he wanted to cry, but could not. Had his tear ducts been worn out after these long years? He then thought. Why did they keep him alive. Why didn’t they leave him dead?
“WHY!”
The Leader looked curiously.
“Why did you keep me alive! And not only that, but you left me with my memories too. Are you truly that twisted that you would leave my memories? If I you didn’t control me, you would be dead! YOU HEAR ME! DEAD!!”
The Leader laughed once more at this concept of being destroyed.
“I guess I’m just the lord of cruelty then.” His smile faded. “You have a mission. And to let you know, you are no longer to be called, ‘John’. That’s your old, human name. For now, you are called…” He thought for a moment, “Pet.”
He then laughed hysterically as John left the room, hanging his head in shame as he did. He had been torn apart, then put back together in the form of a monster. He was in pain, but had no relief for it. He was an empty shell, and there was no way to fill it.

Chapter 21: Path crossing
Zander ran down the corridor. He had encountered a group of the intruders, and got mixed up in a fire fight. But he was skilled, and so were the nine others that were there. They were all extremely well trained, that’s why they had been placed into the ‘Search and Destroy Unit’ (SDU). No enemy of the NER could withstand them. They were elite, but so were the enemy. It seemed like they were superhuman. Though they were skilled to deal with such intrusions, the enemy still managed to thin out Zander’s group. There were now five of them. He knew there were others elsewhere in the citadel, but these were the only once at his level he’d seen.
He hadn’t encountered anything for a while after the fight. He had also gone off another way than the other five, who headed off towards where the enemy had landed. He thought about going with them, but decided that he would scout out the area for others. He didn’t want to have anyone come up behind him.
In the distance came the sounds of a gun battle. Had they encountered the enemies drop location. No, that was much further away. He turned down a corridor, almost getting shot by his own comrades that were hiding inside a room. They seemed relieved to see him. SDU members had the effect on others. They made everyone feel more safe.
He checked his weapon. The enemy were down this hallway, and seemed to have defeated his own allies. This wasn’t good. And now they were heading towards his hiding spot. He had to time it perfectly. Suddenly a heavy, yet swift moving object went past him. The sudden movement almost made him leap up from where he hid. He had no idea what it was. Was it on his side? Or was it something else. He peered around, the figure had just disappeared around another corner. It was heading after the group that had just defeated his allies. He decided to follow and find out just what it was.

* * *

“Damn them!” Yelled Natalie. “DIE!”
Natalie had walked almost into a trap. Jeff and David had been caught in the trap and killed. Three mutants, that appeared highly trained, blasted their way right through them, but Natalie was quick on her toes. She managed to take cover, toss a grenade, then finish them all off.
“Commander…” Came a voice over the intercom, “enemy at dropship… small unit… we’re fine… cleared…”
“Good. I can’t find the others, are they with you?”
Moments later, “…commander, three… have just arrived. They’re woun… but they’ll be fine…”
“Good, stay and hold dropship, I’m going to head further in. I’ll finish this mission on my own if necessary.”
“Roger that…”
Natalie turned around and went back the way she came. The Leader had to be found and killed. Otherwise their efforts would have been for nothing.

* * *

Zander continued to follow, but found it hard to keep up. Suddenly the figure stopped moving, then it looked straight at where Zander was hiding. Zander could feel its eyes scanning him, checking him out. But he was hidden right behind an entire wall. And it hadn’t seen him, he knew it hadn’t. But somehow it knew he was there. It must have a powerful sense.
The feeling of the figure watching him left him, so he assumed it had moved on. He went around the corner, but it was gone. How? This corridor wasn’t short. There wasn’t any doors, or hiding spots. It was indeed quick. He needed to catch up. Zander continued to run in the direction of where it may have been. He still wanted to find out what it was.

* * *

A sudden form loomed past Natalie as she sprinted into a dark hallway. She stopped and scanned the room, her gun at the ready. Her eyes centred on a large figure in front, she fired, but missed completely. It was extremely fast. She felt hot breath on her back, so she turned, shooting. But there was nothing. Then came a voice, one that was slightly distorted, but had a familiar tone to it.
“It can’t be. How can it?” The next word was the biggest shock, “Natalie?”
She turned to face the creature. It stood a meter away, its top half obscured by shadows.
“How do you know my name?”
The figure moved forward slowly, Natalie raised her weapon and centred it on the figure. It continued to walk forward, so she took a few steps back. The shadow covering its top half finally moved off. Natalie gasped in shock. Her gun almost dropped.
“John?”
The man stood up tall, looking almost as confused as Natalie was. Both of them scanned each other, as if trying to see if something was not right, like it was an illusion.
“This can’t be true. Your dead.” Murmured the man.
“I’m dead? You’re the one that should be dead.”
“No! I was told that you had all died years ago! You’re an illusion! You must be! GET OUT OF MY HEAD!”
“No way! You’re the illusion! You died to save the remainder of humanity. And you succeeded! Otherwise I wouldn’t be here right now, would I?” She shook her head quickly, closing her eyes, then reopening them, as if to get rid of the illusion.
John looked at her, thinking hard. “He lied then? Damn you!”
He turned around, so he could go and kill the leader for lying. But before he could, his body was filled with an electric shock. He began to turn and face Natalie. They had taken control of him. They wanted him to kill Natalie.
“John? What are you doing? John!”
John stopped himself from advancing. It seemed to be taking every ounce of his strength to do so. Natalie stepped back again, her gun ready, but shaking madly.
“John?”
He fell onto his knees, siting down on his legs, his hands on his front legs. He was forcing himself to not kill Natalie. He didn’t want to do it. He may have become a Monster, physically looking. But he knew that he still controlled his mind and will power. He was not a Monster yet. He still controlled his actions. There was no way that he would be the one to kill Natalie.
“John?” Repeated Natalie, slowly walking forward again. Concerned for what was happening.
John snapped his head up to look at her. His face was sweating, but among the sweat were tears. He was under too much strain. It was killing him to fight off the controlling devices that were attached to him. Natalie didn’t know what was happening. She kept advancing.
“STOP!” Grunted John. “They’re controlling me… they want me to kill you…”
Natalie stopped, her hand to her mouth. She was scared, worried and confused. And she still didn’t know what to do.
“Natalie…kill me… please… I don’t want… to live like this… kill me… before I kill you…”
Natalie almost fell over from this comment. She shook her head.
“NO! I wont kill you! Are you crazy?”
John let out a wail of pain, almost lunging at Natalie, but he managed to regain his control, and force himself down again.
“Kill me… or else I… they…” He couldn’t put the words together, “I DON”T WANT TO HAVE YOUR BLOOD ON MY HANDS!”
Natalie was shaking, almost crying too. She didn’t want to do it. She couldn’t kill him, not after all these years. She had missed him, longed for him even. But that was kept to her dreams. She wouldn’t kill him. That wasn’t the right thing to do.
“I wont do it! I can’t do it! I wont! I WONT! I WONT!”
She couldn’t hold the tears in any more. Seeing her once powerful husband crippled down to a machine that no longer had control over himself. Someone who she had loved with all her heart and soul that died years ago to save her but was now alive and forced to try and kill her. And not only that, but he wanted her to kill him before he got her. It was something that came only with the deepest and darkest of nightmares. But this wasn’t fiction it was reality.
“Natalie… please…”
She raised her gun. She tried to aim, but couldn’t. Not only was she shaking, but also her mind kept telling her not to do it. It was beginning to be too much.
“Natalie…” He lowered his head. “DO IT!”
BANG!!!

* * *

Zander came to a halt, quickly taking cover behind a wall as he did. He had heard several gunshots just down this corridor as well as the yelling before that. What was going on around here? He thought. He edged out from behind the wall and continued, slowly making his way closer before ducking behind some crates. He was close to the source of the noise now. He prepared his weapon, making sure that the ammo was full.
“Damn you John… You’ve put on weight.”
Zander pressed down further into his hiding spot. Then peered around the corner, just slightly. He saw a woman come around the corner with a large man over her shoulder. It took a moment to hit him who the woman was. He had not seen her for in a long time, but he remembered a face. It was Natalie. But whom was she carrying?
He leaned back against the crates. He was preparing to swing around and fire, but he stopped the thought. He didn’t want to shoot her. He thought some more about it, but kept coming up with the answer to just sit there and not interfere.
In the hour they had spent together, he seemed to have grown slightly fond of her. She was funny and even bubbly at times, and they also shared a similar interest in wanting to gain knowledge on what each race did differently. In fact, if it weren’t for Natalie, he wouldn’t have learned of the concept of marriage, and he therefore wouldn’t have built up the courage to ask Gina the question. He smiled as he sat there, and then eventually looked around to see if she had gone. She was no longer anywhere to be seen.
Zander stood up and holstered his weapon. He knew that he had defied orders by not attacking them, but he also knew that there was no point in doing so. Not only did he not want to attack her, but also as he saw her face come around the corner, he saw a look of determination in her eyes. But there was also something very sad there too. This just lead him more to believe that whatever she was doing, she wouldn’t allow anything to stop her. And he would have been killed in a heartbeat.
So Zander just walked off, wondering what Natalie was doing. And also wondering whom the man was.

Chapter 22: Return to Orion
Natalie ran as fast as she could carrying John over her back. She had been asked to kill him, by John himself. She didn’t want to do it, but she knew it had to be done. However, she hadn’t actually killed him. But she had placed him in a state where he could die if medical treatment was not given.
When John asked to shoot, she had shot, but not at vitals. Instead she shot him in the arms and legs. This stopped him from being able to move, thus preventing the NER from making him do things he didn’t want to. Or she needed to do now was get him on the dropship. Then they would head back to Orion, from there he could be looked after properly, and the neural equipment that was implanted in the metal sections of his body could be safely removed.
“Prep the dropships. I’m coming through the door in about a minute. The missions primary has changed from assassinate to rescue.”
“Rescue?”
“Just prep the ships! We have to get out of here now!”
“Yes commander!”
At the second, Natalie burst through the door, startling the soldiers on the other side.
“I thought I said to get the dropships prepped!”
“But ma’am, you only just…”
“GET IN!”
She ran into the dropship, and seven soldiers followed. She looked at them angrily.
“Not that many! Get in the other, we have an important passenger.”
The soldiers tumbled back and some almost stopped and stared for a second at the man. They ran over to the second dropship, but it was almost full. Mostly because the squad that returned decided to grab some NER equipment. So three others ran back just as the second began to lift off, just making it inside the first dropship.
“This is Talon one, we are in the air. Coordinates set for Orion. Three enemy flyers are on radar, should be easy to outmaneuver.”
“This is Talon two, we are in the air now, we’ll follow.”
Natalie looked down at John, and so did the three soldiers that followed. They gazed in awe until finally one spoke surprisingly.
“Holy shit! It’s the Commander! I mean, well…”
Natalie looked up, “Well! What about it?” Se snapped.
The soldiers didn’t say another word, and Natalie continued to bandage up Johns wounds to slow the bleeding. She ushered for the three soldiers to grab some medical equipment, and they all began the urgent medical treatment John desperately needed. Natalie continued to act angrily, and snapped at the soldiers if they made a mistake in what they did. And when they looked at her in awe, she snapped again. But after a while she realised that they were they were looking at her in shock. Possibly because she had a nosebleed, or because she was acting flustered, angry and determined at the same time. Or perhaps because for the first time in years, she had once again began to cry.

* * *

“Life signs are at normal sir. Patient is returning to normal heart and brainwave levels.”
John’s eyes were blurred. He couldn’t make anything out.
“Now he’s awake. Switch on Neural Chip Canceller. We don’t want those NER taking control again.”
“Neural Chip Canceller is active and is working at 100%.”
“Where am I?” Muttered John.
“John. Can you hear me?” Came a man’s voice.
“John. John! Wake up, it’s me.” This was a woman’s voice now. A familiar voice. It soothed him to hear it.
John attempted to refocus himself and respond. But couldn’t muster the strength. He then blanked out.
“Damn it! We almost had him this time.” Said Dr Friedreich.
“Oh John. Please wake up.” Moaned Natalie.
“There isn’t much we can do. We just have to keep monitoring him.”
“I want to take him back to my house.” The doctor seemed curious at this, “He can sleep there until he wakes up. And he should feel more comfortable there too.”
“Are you sure about that?”
“I know him better than anyone. I’m quite sure on this decision.”

* * *

Sudden memories flooded Johns mind, piercing into his skull. Then he sat up straight, panting. He looked around the room. It was small and dark, except for the light coming in through the small gap between the curtains and the window. He looked around for a bit longer. Trying to figure out where he was. Then he heard some giggling noises, ones that sounded like a little girls. That’s it, he thought, this must be dream.
He sat up on the side of the bed then felt the metallic plates on his arms followed the plate on his chest. The steel looked cold and icy, but wen touched it seemed warm. It was a strange feeling.
“This can’t be dream then.” He muttered.
More giggling came from outside the door. Someone had just run past. Then there was another voice, the familiar one.
“Calm down Nicky, you’ll wake him up. He needs his rest you know.” The voice trailed off as it moved further away.
John forced himself to stand. His legs almost collapsed in as he did. They hurt, but only a bit. He noticed the bandages around him. Had he been wounded? Then a memory splashed back, the one back at the citadel. Natalie had shot him, as asked, but she had only disabled him so he couldn’t move.
“Nicky!” Came the voice again. Briefly followed by more giggling.
John walked slowly over to the door. He almost lost his balance, but he managed to get the momentum back as he walked over. He opened the door and peered through. The hallway stretched both ways, and the voices came from down the right. He slowly moved down the hallway then entered into a large room with a tiled floor and a table in the centre. The dining room or the kitchen? He thought to himself.
Two people stood by the table. The woman sat down, and the little girl stood in front of her. They looked off at him. The girl looked slightly worried, but stern. And the woman just stared at him anxiously, yet happily. It was Natalie.
“Hello John.” She finally said. “Did you sleep well?”
John gazed at her, and forced a smile.
“Yes. I did actually. A bit sore though.”
He looked down at the girl. Though he had never seen her before, there was something familiar about her.
“Oh, I almost forgot. This is Nicky.” She stroked the girl’s hair for a second then looked back at John. “She’s your daughter, John.”
John looked awkwardly surprised. He had a daughter, but how? He looked at Natalie, as if to say how.”
“She was born four months after you… well. You know.”
John was suddenly filled with an overwhelming joy. He had a daughter! He tried to smile, or say something. But he was still in shock and at a loss for words. So he just looked down at the girl, and smiled as much as he could.
After a second of looking, he spotted what made her familiar. She had Natalie’s face, and probably the same figure from when she was only a child. She seemed to resemble her mother more than John, but there was one feature that stood out. Her eyes. They were solid, and filled with strength and influence. An unquenchable determination that, like John, only few in the world possessed.
Nicky then surprised John more as she moved away from her mother and walked right up to John. Then without giving it another thought, she hugged him, resting herself gently against him. John didn’t know what to do, so he just rested one hand on her head.
“I’m glad your back daddy.” She looked up and smiled.
Natalie seemed surprised too, but she regained her present position. She seemed to have expected such a reaction. Three times Nicky had had the same dream where a man of steel ran around in agony calling out Natalie’s name. And shortly after Natalie had found John in his resent state, she had realised how close they were. It seemed like Nicky had seen the future, thus identifying her father before she had even met him. It was a bond that couldn’t be broken.
“Well John. Now that your back, I’m sure there’s a lot you want to know.”
“Well, yes. After this just here, I think there’s a lot I have to catch up on.”
Natalie tilted her head and giggled. “Yes, I guess there is.”

Chapter 23: Punishment
The Leader sat in his chair, staring at Zander who stood in the middle of the room. He knew why he was here. He failed to engage an enemy threat when he had the chance, which resulted in not only the escape of the attackers, but also the escape of a highly valued ‘piece of equipment’ as they chose to call it.
He had stood in the room with the Leader watching him for 15 minutes now, and still nothing had been said. Zander knew he was waiting for any signs. Then when he found them, he would exploit them. So Zander stood tall and determined.
Finally the Leader spoke. “You know why you’re here, don’t you?”
“Yes.” Replied Zander.
“Then you must know that you have failed in your duties as an NER Search and Destroy Unit.”
“Yes.”
“Then you realise that a punishment is due in result of your failure to act when you had the chance.”
“Yes.”
The Leaders eyes narrowed. Then he half smiled, evilly.
“You like gladiators do you? Well how would you like to be a gladiator?”
Zander was slightly surprised at this. Was he rewarding him, or punishing him. He kept his posture while he thought this. He didn’t want to show weakness.
“In that room over there is a old roman style gladiator costume. Put it on and then exit through the double doors. Do it now, no questions.”
Zander walked off to the room and entered. There was a single bench with a roman gladiators costume on it. It looked pretty authentic. Like it was specially crafted. He was getting worried now and he had a strange feeling that he was about to be in a desperate fight for his life.
He undressed then placed on the costume. It fitted well, and was surprisingly comfortable. It even had a sword to go with it. Was he supposed to use the sword? He looked at the large double doors. Something was on the other side of that, and it was going to be dangerous. He just knew it. He took a deep breath and then proceeded through the doors.
“My people. We have a very special event for you today. Our resident SDU commander, Zander, shall now fight in this, a battle for survival.” The leader was speaking.
All around him, humanoids watched and cheered. His fears had just come true, and there was no way to back out. He had just been forced into a real gladiator match. He looked around the stadium for what he would fight before finally, in the centre, a large totem came out of the ground with someone strapped to it. On closer inspection, he realised that it was Gina.
“GINA!” He began to run over to her but was stopped.
“Our young warriors opponent, Insector.”
A large insectoid came out through a large gate on the opposite end of the stadium. It was massive, with long chitinous armour and razor sharp claws and pincers. Its eyes darted around in all directions, then centred on Gina. It let out a single screech, one that hurt Zander ears, then began to charge her. The noise must have woken Gina up, because she immediately began to scream.
Zander sprang into action, readying his sword. This was crazy behold reason. Whoever Natalie had run off with, must have been far more important than he expected for such a punishment.
He placed himself between Gina and Insector then began to swing his sword around. The creature stopped charging and began to flick its claws around. It was four times his size. He had no chance with holding this thing off.
“Zander!”
Zander looked around at Gina and was struck in the side by Insector. His sword left his hand and went somewhere else. He cursed and stood up again. Insector was eyeing down Gina who was speechless from fear. All she could do was watch, as the creature got ready to strike her.
“GET AWAY FROM HER!”
Zander leaped up and grabbed onto the claw, angering Insector. He managed to get back onto the ground, still holding onto the claw. Then with all his might, he attempted to pull Insector away. But all he managed was to wear himself down. Insector just flicked its claw, sending Zander flying again. He stood back up, spitting some dirt out of his mouth, then wiped off some blood. He couldn’t overpower the creature, but at least he had gained its attention. Insector began to charge Zander now, readying its claws to impale Zander.
“Look out!” Screamed Gina.
Zander rolled out of the way as the claws began to come down. He got nicked in the arm, but managed to avoid being skewered right through. The creature screeched again, and this tie Zander had to cover his ears, as did much of the audience. But once it stopped, the audience seemed to be even more entertained, and cheered again. Did they think this was just some sort of show? He was fighting for his life against a creature that appeared to be unstoppable. And he also had to protect Gina while he did that.
Insector began to pummel the ground and then charge again. Zander leaped up, grabbed one of the claws and used it to get onto its neck. He gripped on with all his might as Insector began to jump and swing around screeching again to get Zander off. But he didn’t loosen his grip, not matter what. The crowed continued to cheer energetically at the show. They were almost out of control. And they weren’t the only ones; Insector had begun to run around randomly. Finally it crashed heavily into a wall. The crowd had begun to run for cover as it began to crash down on Insector. Zander barely had time to get off as ravenous creature was crushed under the heavy rubble.
The crowd was quite for an instant then they all began to cheer even more enthusiastically than before. The Leader seemed to be angry at Zander’s victory, but smiled and stood up. Holding his hands up for silence. The crowd slowly quietened.
“Zander has proven himself a very powerful warrior. He has earned his right to survive.” He clicked his fingers, and almost like magic, the braces that held Gina down came off.
She ran over to Zander, almost crying. She jumped at him, wrapping herself around him as she did. Zander almost fell over from it, but kept himself steady. Then held her in his arms.
“Shh, It’s alright now. Your safe.”
Gina wept quietly as they stood together, her head resting on his chest, her arms tightly around him. He patted her back gently to calm her. Then she looked up at him.
“That was too much.”
“I know. That was too much.” He looked up at where the Leader had been sitting and pondered what may have been going through his head. This wasn’t much too overboard, even if it was something important lost. And why was he only punished, had the others not failed too? The Leader was certainly a twisted being whose cruelty was unmeasurable.

Chapter 24: Following events
Nicky ran around the park, laughing and playing with her friends while John and Natalie watched from a nearby bench. Talking about everything that had happened up from the day that Harmonia had fallen.
“It sure seems like you have done a good job maintaining the last of Humanity.”
“I guess so. But we’ve still lost many even though there hasn’t been any more fighting. As I said, that flu really caught us off guard.”
“That’s not the point. You dealt with it quickly. And not only that, but you’ve managed to make good out of Chemical-M. I would have never thought that stuff to be good for any cause.”
“I guess your right.”
“You made the right decision. Not like my father who chose to use it for a race of super-humans.”
Natalie began fiddling with her fingers. “Yeah. It sure was wrong to use it for that.”
She hadn’t told John about using Chemical-M to make super-humans yet. She wanted to wait for the right time. John looked at her sudden action.
“What’s wrong? Is there something you need to tell me?”
Natalie didn’t say anything for a second. He had caught onto her already.
“Well, you see. I kind of… Used Chemical-M in some experiments.”
John raised an eyebrow. “Well of course you would have. How else would you be able to make that vaccine from it?”
“No I don’t mean that. You see.” She breathed in, and then blurted the rest out, “I used an improved version of Chemical-M to make some super soldiers,” She kept on going with it, “so I could use them to go down to the heart of the NER citadel and then assassinate the Leader, and it all worked out fine because they didn’t mutate or anything, they just became quicker and more powerful so it…” John pressed a finger to her lips to quiet her.
He looked Natalie dead in the eye with a disapproving look. Natalie bit her lower lip and stared back at the ground then began to fiddle again, this time with her handbag. She did her best not to meet his gaze again, but John placed his left hand on her right cheek and tilted her head back to his face.
“Are you telling me that you performed an illegal experiment with a banned substance, then used it to make super soldiers just to serve your own preposes?”
Natalie trembled slightly. “Okay, so I did. But I did it for a good cause.”
“How is experimenting with an unstable and hazardous substance for a good cause? And did these people even know what danger they were about to be put through?”
“Of course. I explained the entire thing with them and even got their signatures beforehand…”
“You got their signatures so they couldn’t back out.”
“They didn’t want to back out. They were comfortable with the whole operation.”
“I’m disappointed with you. You abused your role as a commander. How you got approval to do this I don’t know.”
Natalie looked away, “Well I didn’t exactly get it approved.”
“So the entire thing was illegally done in secret!” His voice had raised, so he lowered it as to not gain attention.
“You realise what trouble your in don’t you? You’re looking at a dishonourable discharge from all your work, and worse, prison.”
“I wasn’t thinking about the consequences.”
“No, you just weren’t thinking at all.”
Nicky ran over to them. “Mummy, daddy, Look what I found.”
She held out a small green frog. She must have found it by the artificial lake.
“Aw, that’s cute,” spoke Natalie. “But you better put it back where you found it.”
“Ok.” Nicky ran back off, skipping every now and then.
“She has a unique character, she does.” Said John.
“I think she gets a lot of her personality from you I think.” Remarked Natalie.
John smiled at Nicky, who was hopping along with the frog now.
“She also gets her attitude from you.”
John snapped back his attention, “And what do you mean by that?”
Natalie giggled. “Well she didn’t get it from me.”
John glared, then smiled and laughed himself. He looked back at Nicky and suddenly remembered what they were talking about. “Hey! Don’t change the subject. Your not out of trouble yet.”
Natalie sighed. “I know. So are you going to report me then?”
John smiled. “No. But I‘ll be taking back control over the EUDF. And the ODC as well.” He stopped smiling. “You’ll be put on suspension for a month too.”
“What?”
“It could be much worse you realise. You have done a very bad thing, even if it was for a good cause. You broke a serious law and have to punished for it. Besides, while you’re on suspension, you can put all your focus into looking after Nicky. Or you could go visit your friends for lunch. Try to take a break from this life for some time. I’ll handle anything else from here. Its my job after all.”

* * *

Gina walked from room to room, as if looking for something. But Zander knew she was just trying to keep her mind occupied. She had been through a terrible event, leaving her almost traumatized. Zander tried to comfort her, but she just smiled, acted as if there wasn’t anything bothering her.
Zander sat down at his desk. He was thinking about what had happened. The Leader had done some very strange things, but this was possibly one of the weirdest. His mind was a twisted one. Zander was beginning to realise that he was a selfish and evil being that tried to be in control of everything that happened. He wanted to rule the world. And though he had brought the NER into a new age of strength and power. He failed to realise the seriousness of their situation.
The citadel had been nuked, causing extensive and unrepairable damage, not only to homes, but to families as well. The Leader didn’t seem to even care for what happened. He was just angry that one of his important things had gotten away, and that people infiltrated his inner citadel.
There was a nock on the door.
“I’ll get it.” Called Gina.
Zander fiddled with a pencil and scribbled some random things on some paper. Then Gina walked up to him and placed a note in front of him.
“It’s addressed to you.”
Zander looked at Gina, who had walked off and sat down in a chair. He picked up the note and opened it. It read:
Dear Zander
I saw all that happened to you in that stadium, and no doubt you have realised just how absurdly harsh it was. You’re not the only one out there that thinks that the Leader has lost his mind and is becoming no more than a selfish dictator.
If you want to know more, then come to the cafeteria at midnight tonight and bring Gina with you.

The note ended there. He looked at it some more. There wasn’t a senders name on it. Who could have sent such a thing? He looked over at Gina, then at the old clock. It was 10:52 pm. It was just over an hour until the time the note said to meet. He placed it down on the table and stared at it.
“Is it anything important?” Asked Gina.
Zander looked back over at her, then at the note again. He stood up and walked into his room.
“Get ready Gina. We need to go to something later on at midnight.”
Gina seemed confused. “Midnight?” She muttered to herself.

Chapter 25: Meeting at midnight
“So what’s going on?” Gina pressed.
“I told you already, I don’t really now.”
“Then why are you dragging me around?” Gina then narrowed her eyes and smiled. “Are you taking me somewhere romantic?”
Zander sighed. “Gina. If it was a date, I would have dressed for the occasion.”
Gina shrugged and continued to follow Zander. She still couldn’t work out why Zander was taking her. It didn’t seem like there was anything that needed her attention. At least nothing that wasn’t kept a secret.
“Ok. We’re here.” Zander looked around. “I can’t see anyone. It said midnight, that’s now.”
“What? Who are we supposed to be meeting?”
“I don’t know. I’m just doing what the letter told me to do.”
“Your following instructions from a letter? Didn’t you read the name?”
“It didn’t have one on it.” Zander sat down at a table.
“So you’ve done what a letter told you to do that didn’t even had a name on it. Are you nuts? It could be anyone. It could be a trap! How do you think I got strapped to that pillar? Zander, what were you thinking?”
At that moment a figure stepped from the shadows. It wasn’t even dark in the room, so how he hid himself was seemed very impressive.
“I’m glad you chose to come. There is much that needs discussion.”
The humanoid was tall and thin, wearing a maroon turban and a tacky olive, long sleeved shirt. His eyes were a bright white, as if he were blind, and his skin was a dark greenish brown.
“Well? Who exactly are you?” Asked Zander.
“Me. You should know. I was one of those who were captured. You saved me, and George as well.”
Another walked out from his hiding spot. Wearing a similar uniform to the first one. But he had the sleeves short and wore a jean jacket over the top.
“Still doesn’t ring any bells. But at least I know we’ve met before.”
“I guess we weren’t formally introduced.” He walked over to Zander and held out his hand. “My name is Merik.”
Zander eyed him up first, then extended his hand and shook Merik’s.
“It is also a pleasure to meet the wife of such a noble man.” He extended his hand to Gina, who stepped back and glared.
“Very well then. I suppose you will want to meet the rest of our group.”
Seven others came out of their hiding spots. Zander was surprised. They had all hidden themselves in the room, and had not been detected. They were well trained. They all lined up.
“This is Adrian, Jeff, Laura, Cameron, Sarah, Terrence and Richard.”
They all replied with a hello, and Cameron even gave a bow. Zander was curious on what was going on here that obtained the attention of so many people. And by the looks of, they were all battle hardened and extremely well trained.
“Ok, so I’ve met the gang. Now what is this really about?”
Merik grinned. “We are an undercover group that controls what all happenings that the Leader choses to ignore. We fight for what is right and oppose those who abuse their powers.” And cantered his vision thoroughly on Zander. “I guess you could call us Rogues.”
“Rogues! Zander, when we get back, I’m going to beat the living daylights out of you for getting me involved in such.” Gina was angry. But she wasn’t the only one.
“You realise your talking to a highly respected and very powerful warrior, and not only that, but a member of the SDU. You’ve just exposed yourselves to a very powerful being that could get you all executed for working against the Leader.”
Merik’s smile faded and he began to laugh. “You realise that your being offered the chance to do what you’ve been longing for since you realised that the Leader was going off his nut? That’s around, let me think, two years now.” Gina began to sneak away, “And you too Gina. Don’t tell me you haven’t had your doubts.”
She span around, her voice booming, “Now you listen to me! I do not want to have any part in your operations! What I think or do is of no concern to any of you, and I intend on keeping that way! And if that just ends up getting me strapped to another pole and attacked by giant insects, then so be it!”
Zander stared at her, shocked. The expression continued along all the Rogues too. That was unexpected. Zander was then slightly worried. It wasn’t like Gina to go off like that.
“Dear, are you alright?”
She glared at Zander then poked out her toung. She pivoted around, her head held high, and stormed over to the door. She tried to open it, but the door was locked. So she turned around, went over to Zander, and angrily sat down next to him, her arms folded.
“Are we over our little tantrum now?” Said Merik sarcastically.
Gina snapped at him and began to focus all her rage into glaring at him.
“Why don’t you tell your husband what you do while he’s away.”
Zander stopped looking shocked and horrified, and stared at Gina curiously. Gina looked back at him angrily, and then let out a deep breath. She rested her head in her hands.
“What’s he talking about? Gina, what have you been doing?”
She closed her eyes then reopened them. She seemed calmer now.
“When you’re away I hack into the Citadels main computer system and reprogram certain aspects of it.”
“You do what? Gina!”
Merik held up his hand for silence. Then looked at them both.
“We need you two. Gina, you have exceptional hacking skills and have almost a complete knowledge of the Citadels mainframe…”
“You don’t need me.” Merik didn’t comment on this.
“And Zander, you are possibly the strongest being in the entire NER. I’m surprised you haven’t made 1st class yet.”
“You’re asking me to throw away my position and join a band of rogues? How stupid do you think I am? I live a good life with what I’ve got now.”
“Do you Zander,” his eyes narrowed, “Do you?”
Zander stared at the table. He looked over at Gina who stared at the wall with her arms folded. She noticed Zander looking at her.
“It’s your decision. I really don’t care what you chose.”
Zander looked back at Merik. He stood up and extended his hand.
“Fine. You have my cooperation. But I am going to need full details of everything that you do.”
Merik shook his hand, gleaming at him.
“Don’t you worry, we only do what is necessary to help our race out. But if you want full detail, we hack, reprogram, swipe, give, fight and party. And with more than one hundred of us, that a big party.”
“There more than a hundred!”
“I thought I explained that you weren’t the only one in the letter.”

Chapter 26: The New United Front
For the last three years, many have seen the Leader’s actions firsthand by now. And many have seen just how selfish he is towards his own well being. Not many feel the same way like this. Most just feel that he is a being that has been pushed far too close to the edge, driving him slightly insane. But even if that is so, it doesn’t explain these various actions.
In 2309, a hostile humanoid tribe went completely berserk. They used trained carnivore and herbivore species of mutants to assault others. Though they had primitive weapons, such as spears and clubs, the massive elephants they commanded made them invincible. Four ‘project’ colonies were under development at that time, two in USA, one in Texes and one in Canada. This tribe ravened all four leaving no survivors. Calls for help were sent out for assistance from the citadel itself. But the Leader chose to ignore it, as if it was only a joke.
However, after a call for help from the Texas colony arrived, a squad of soldiers flew out to help. They consisted of three carriers, two with troops, and one for survivors. But almost directly after they left, a message was sent out saying that they were traitors and were attempting to escape with valuable equipment. The order came as follows,
“Renegade Aircrafts trying to escape citadel airspace. They have stolen equipment onboard one of their crafts. Permission to use any force necessary to destroy the traitors is given.”
Sadly, the carriers were intercepted five miles from the borderline. They didn’t stand a chance.
Another instance was in 2310. Specifically on the date of the 17th of August. For two weeks an enemy human force was making a stand inside secure nuclear shelter. They were survivors from the final raids on the human forces as they retreated back to Harmonia.
NER forces were sent to deal with them. But upon arrival, instead of an instant fight breaking out. The human forces surrendered and made offers of peace. Inside the shelter were more than 200 humans, the majority of that, civilians. They offered various items they held in their possession, jewellery, fabrics, and clothes, even assistances in growing food if they were allowed to just live in peace. The first impression the NER troops had from this was to shoot on sight. But instead, they chose not too. After a meeting between two NER 1st classes, it was agreed that they do not kill the humans. Their offer to help in growing food would have proved sufficient. And since the war was officially over, civilians were not a problem.
A week later the report reached the citadel explaining the situation. And almost straight after that, a message was sent back, from the Leader himself, to kill all the human’s, regardless if they were civilian. This was a bloody slaughter that stayed with the soldiers sent there forever. It wasn’t even a contest, they just died without retaliation. Because they couldn’t retaliate. Of course this was not what the reports said. The report was altered so that the NER citizens thought it was a full scale battle.
Another shock from this event was the mass punishment of the soldiers who defied original orders. Some retorted against such things and tried to revolt against the punishment. They were immediately considered traitors and executed.
Finally, we come to the most recent and devastating of them all. Where tactical nukes took out 21% of the citadel capital. And rather than declaring a sate of emergency, so that victims could be helped out. An order was sent out to continue with normal proceedings. As if nothing had happened. The Leader simply didn’t care about anything else. And something needs to be done about this.

* * *

Deep in the underground levels of the citadel, near the old mining facility that was originally used to harvest, what was presumed to be a new element (Chemical-M is what is spoken of here), the rogue forces place their control centre. Because of the depth it is under the Earth’s crust, it has been able to remain hidden for the past two years. A ever watchful eye of everything that happens within the NER.
“So here’s our plan,” Began Merik, “We set up our troops around the western and eastern district. Those pints are the weakest and should prove easier to capture. Once we have those, we can move in towards the citadel. That will be difficult, the NER control all airbases. And we can’t risk trying to control one of those while we make our assault. It will cost too many lives to do so. We need all forces fighting in the city where they can be of advantage.”
Zander peered down at the holographic map in the middle of the table. Apart from him and Merik, Gina, George, Adrian, Jeff, Laura, Cameron, Sarah, Terrence and Richard. They were the main command line for the New United Front.
“Ok, but what about the heavy defences? Even if we can take these sections, they can still barrage us with those cannons.” Asked Adrian.
Merik scratched his forehead. “Well, That’s what we still need to figure out. We could assume that they wouldn’t be used at the risk of killing their own troops and civilians. But I wouldn’t be surprised if the Leader ordered an onslaught anyway. So we can’t really take that chance safely.”
Gina shook her head and muttered something that sounded like, “Do I have a choice?” She looked up and breathed deep.
“The cannons have an electronically system, so if you can supply me with a sufficient control centre, I can hack them and mess with their controls. First by stuffing up their targeting. Then by reversing their reload functions. Then after that, I can get right in and stop them from being able to do anything.”
“Excellent. We’ll supply you with the best computers we have to get that done.”
“I doubt you have the computers here. Those cannons contain a powerful barrier. From here, they can’t even be touched. The only way for me to stop them is to either get right up to them. Or get to the defensive control room. From there I can do more than just stop the cannons.”
Merik began to beam at her. “Wonderful! Then I shall assign me best team to you. So you may achieve that.”
“What happens if our forces begin to be overwhelmed? I’ve forgotten it… its about a,” Laura thought for a moment. “We’re outnumbered 1 to 25 out there. We may be many, but their forces are much more.”
“I’ve been considering that. It is very true that the NER forces far outnumber us. One mistake in our plan will be the end.” He looked around at them all. “Any suggestions on helping to improve those odds will be much appreciated.”
Zander looked around at them. He had an idea, but was it even worth trying for it? He decided to go along with it and see what happened.
“I know a human quite well.” They all stared at him. “I remember back when I was captured. She interviewed me closely. She was… friendly.”
Gina scowled at Zander. He noticed this and quickly came up with an excuse.
“No, not like that Gina. What kind of husband would I be then?”
She shook her head and smiled. “I know. I just wanted a reaction.”
Merik came in, “So this person can help. Is that what your suggesting?”
“I don’t really know. But she is alive. I know so. She was one of the humans that attacked the Citadel. But then ended up escaping with NER property. She has a lot of power among the human forces. Possibly because her husband is none other than Commander Johnson Cross.”
This name got all their attentions completely. They all knew of John, almost everyone did. He was a well-known man, and the only person whom the Leader, though he also despised him, thought of as an equal to himself.
“So she has the power to help us in evening the odds in this battle?” Asked Sarah. “What makes you think that she would assist us? And can we even trust her?”
“Yes. Because she has the same role as we do. They want to stop the Leader just as much as we do. I know this, as this was their original intention for attacking the Citadel. They wanted to assassinate him.”
They all looked around at each other. Except Merik, he just smiled. And Gina, who stared curiously at Zander, occasionally, glancing at the hologram.
“There’s just one thing,” Began Adrian, “How do we contact her to see if she’ll help?”
“Apparently my wife is an excellent hacker.” He turned to look at her. “Do you think you could hack into one of their satellites and establish a video feed from there. I’m sure we can get contact with them via that.”
They looked at Gina. “Yeah, I could try. But it may take awhile.”
“How long?” Asked Merik.
“Oh, maybe 14 hours at the most.” She smiled.
“Then that’s our plan for now. Until then, we continue to gather more intelligence and prepare for our original plan. If we can establish contact with them, and they agree, then from there we shall alter our plan tom suit. For now, you are all dismissed.”
Zander stared at the hologram for a while as the others walked off. Then Merik walked up behind him and placed a hand on his shoulder.
“For all our sake. I hope that your plan works. Because to be honest. The odds really are more like 1 to 60. We’ve been making the same plan for a year now. All we’ve done is expand our forces and refine the same plan over and over again. If they are willing to help us in ending the Leader’s reign, then it just goes to show how pointless it really was to fight one another when we can work so well within a team.”
“I wont let you down. Or at least, I hope she doesn’t let us down.”
Merik gave a curt nod then walked off. Zander leaned forward on the table. Then stood up straight and turned off the hologram. He looked around the large cavern. There was actually still some mining machinery in here from years ago. He wondered if it still worked. It must be fun to be in control of such powerful machines. He spotted Gina heading towards a door. He quickly ran over to her, and just managed to reach her as she went trough the door.
“Gina!” She stopped halfway through and looked back at him. “Ah, good you heard me.”
“Well. What is it?”
“Look, you don’t have to be apart of all this. If we can get assistance from the human’s then you wont even need to hack into those cannons.”
Gina half smiled. “I’m glad you still find the time to be concerned for my safety. But there is no one that can hack better than me. Even if we do get help we’ll still need to stop those cannons. I doubt that they’ll be able to supply air support for us, and those cannons are capable of taking a heavy payload. I have no other choice in this matter.”
Zander sighed. “I know. I just don’t want to put you in any danger. Your not a soldier.”
Gina, leaned against the door, then moved forward and kissed Zander.
“Don’t worry. I know what I’m getting myself into, and I am more than prepared for what may happen.” She pulled away and went up the stairway, closing the door behind her. Zander stood there for a second and then folded his arms.
“Out of all the woman, I get you.” He smiled and walked off. “And I couldn’t be happier.

Chapter 27: Contact
In one of Orion’s control rooms. Two men sat back relaxing while they did their shift. They had a rather easy job, since the evacuation of Earth, there haven’t been any real communications going through. Just report messages that came in from orbiting satellites. It was a rather dull job in a small low light room. The only sound was the squeak of moving chairs, and the low hum of the computers.
“Bleck!” Spurted James. “What the hell did you put in this coffee?”
Xavier laughed and turned his chair around. “Its all there is.”
“Well it tastes pretty crap. What brand did you use?”
“I don’t know. The label had come off the tin.”
James spat into his mug, and turned to face Xavier.
“You used the unmarked tin! That stuff has been in there since my father worked this station. Its ancient!”
“Sorry. I just grabbed what coffee was in there.”
James rotated back to face his console. “Darn rookies.”
Xavier shrugged and rotated back around too. He sipped his coffee and pulled a face too. It tasted rather awful. He placed down the mug and sighed. Nothing exiting ever happened around here. He wished he could work up in the control tower. But to get there, he needed to start off small. And this was just the thing for practise.
“Hey, Xavier. Log into this site could you. We’ll play some internet chess to pass the time.”
“Ok then.”
He logged into the site and then found the game. James was already on and waiting for him to make his move. He shifted his pawn forward two spaces.
“Any other games on this site we can play. Chess is a bit too slow for me.”
James moved his own pawn forward one space. “Why don’t you take he time to relax and refine your strategy. Besides, this is really the only good game on this site that’s multiplayer.”
Xavier moved his rook across then leaned back on his chair.
“You got a plan to back up that move?”
James moved another pawn two spaces to go in front of the rook. Then Xavier took his piece with his bishop.
“You should watch my bishop.”
“Good move, good move.”
At that moment a voice came over the intercom.
“…is anyone… can you…” The signal began to be lost.
“Xavier, begin adjusting your systems to intercept that message. I’ll try to get a video feed on it.”
James began typing in various things and mingling with his console. Xavier smiled slightly. Finally something interesting seemed to be happening. The signal began to become stronger.
“Is anyone there… hear me properly… reply if you… message…”
“That’s strange. The message seems to be relayed from one of our satellites. And not only that, but the location is somewhere deep under the NER citadel.” Said James.
“What? The citadel. Should we cut the feed?”
“No, continue to get a lock on it.”
The message was slowly becoming clearer. And an image had finally begun to appear on one of the larger screens. Xavier looked over to it briefly. The image seemed to be silhouetting a woman.
“Doesn’t look NER.”
James peered over at the screen. It sure didn’t look like any NER he’d seen before. But then again, he’d never really seen an NER. For his whole life he had lived on Orion. The image became clearer, and finally the full transmission came through.
“Can you hear this message properly? Is this thing even working?”
The woman appeared to be human at first glance. But after a few seconds, it came clear she wasn’t. Though the features were human, there were some things, like the skin and eyes that were different, and seemed inhuman.
“I’ll assume that this has gotten through now. I can see you properly now. Well, if it’s worked, then say something.” She was feisty.
“Of course we can see you.” Retorted Xavier. James gave him a sharp look to be quite.
“So,” Began James, “Who are you and what are your intentions?”
“Me. That’s not important to know at all. I’m just here to establish a communication. You can speak to this man.”
She stood up and moved out of the way, saying something quietly to another as she did. Then another, more distinguished humanoid sat down in front. He looked carefully at both the men. Then frowned.
“This doesn’t look like the right place. I want to talk with the main command. You two look like everyday workers.”
James seemed offended. “I’ll have you know that we are responsible for intercepting all messages that come through before they are sent to that particular state of command. And we don’t generally do such for NER scum.”
Now the humanoid was offended. “I would prefer that you didn’t refer to me as NER scum. I do not associate myself with them anymore.”
“Ok then. What do you associate with?”
He smiled. “I am apart of an underground faction. We call ourselves the New United Front.” James raised an eyebrow. “We’re rogues in other words. Or rebels as I’ve heard you call such.”
Xavier looked over at James for a reaction, and also to see what he should do.
“Why should I do what you tell me?”
“Because our matter is urgent and very serious. But it is none of your concern. Could you please just patch me through to Dr. Natalie Cross.”
“What happens if I don’t know anyone of that name?” Lied James.
“I’m pretty sure you do. And I know she’s still alive. Not only have I met and had a discussion with her before. But I saw her during the attack on the citadel.”
James shook his head. Then made a face. “Nope, don’t know her.”
“You lying.”
“No I’m not.”
The humanoid sighed. “Just send a message to her saying that a certain humanoid called Zander wants to speak with her. She’ll understand.”
His face was as serious as he could make it. But James continued to act like he didn’t know what he was talking about. Zander continued to act serious, staring completely at James. Until finally James himself sighed and shook his head.
“Fine. I’ll send a message to her. But if she says she has no idea what you are talking about. You can bloody piss off!”
“Thank you. I think.”

* * *

Natalie sat down in the living room with Nicky. They were playing an old classic, Snakes and Ladders. The phone rang. Nicky jumped up and hurtled over into the kitchen.
“Nicky, slow down. You’ll hurt yourself.”
Nicky pushed a chair over to the phone and pressed the answer switch. The screen lit up with an image of a man with a slightly angry look on his face. He almost shouted at first, but upon noticing that a child had answered, he attempted a smile.
“Hello there. May I please speak with your mother?”
Nicky smiled, “And who shall I say is calling.”
“Strange answer for a child like you. Ok, tell her that it’s the James, from the communication routing centre.”
“Ok.”
Nicky hopped off the chair and ran back to the living room, but had to slide to a halt as Natalie came around the corner.
“A man called James wants to speak with you.”
“Thankyou Nicky. You can go back to playing if you’d like. It’s your turn to roll the dice.”
Nicky hopped back into the room and Natalie walked over to the phone. She shifted the chair out of the way then looked at the man.
“Sorry for any interruptions. But there some man called by the name of Zander who wants to speak with you.”
“Zander?”
“He says you have met before.”
Natalie scratched her forehead and wandered a few steps. She’d heard the name before, but couldn’t remember anything about it.
“Is there a video feed?” He nodded. “Could you route it to me then?”
The man grumbled then began to type on his console. A small, sub-screen popped up on the main one with the image of the humanoid. Natalie looked puzzling at the humanoid, she was getting more confused, but at the back of her mind, she could see the memory. And finally it came to her.
“Zander! What the? Patch the full thing through right away.”
“Right away.” The man swivelled around and looked off in another direction. He then spoke, “Your lucky.”
The full image of Zander appeared on the screen.
“He was annoying.” He then smiled. “It’s been a long time. Hasn’t it.”
Natalie seemed baffled, and speechless. It indeed had been a long time since they had last met. Five years ago, inside a questioning room.
“How did? Zander, what are you doing? What’s this all about?”
Zander smile some more. “Calm down Natalie.”
“But how?”
He peered over at someone else, then looked back. Grinning a little less now, but still seeming very pleased about it.
“I got my wife, Gina, to hack into one of your satellites. Then she used that to get into your message system. It took a while but it she made it look easy. Though I admit that for the time I watched her I had no idea what was going on.” He then laughed.
Natalie almost laughed too. But managed to control herself.
“So your married? When did that happen?”
“Oh right. It was about four years ago. You’ve never met her, but I believe I mentioned her when back when we met.”
Suddenly Zander was nudged aside by someone else. She peered straight into the screen and centred her eyes right on Natalie. Then she forced a smile.
“Well, now you see her. This is my wife, Gina.”
“Umm, pleasure to meet you.” Said Natalie.
Gina poked out her toung. Then smiled and replied. “I don’t think it’s really that much of a pleasure at all.” She then giggled.
“Gina.” Retorted Zander.
“I’m just joking.” Giggled Gina. “Its nice to meet the woman who put some sense into my husband.”
Natalie raised an eyebrow. She honestly didn’t know what she was talking about. But she thought it must be somehow linked to their relationship before she and Zander met.
“Well. I’m glad I could help.”
Gina moved away from the screen leaving Zander alone to shake his head. He looked slightly embarrassed, though it didn’t really show.
“Ok. Now where were we? Oh yes, I was going to ask you something.” His faced changed to seriousness. “Before I begin though. I’ll let you know that I am no longer apart of the NER. Neither is Gina, or anyone else down here either. A lot has happened in the last five years, and now I’m finally going to do the right thing. So instead of being apart of the NER, I am now apart of a rogue faction called the New United Front.”
Natalie seemed puzzled. “So your now a rebel against your own kind? How’d that happen?”
“As I said, a lot has happened. Anyway, that is not to be concerned with. We in the NUF are finally making preparations to attack the citadel. We hope to do so within the week. However, the NER forces at the citadel are extremely powerful and severely outnumber us in troop size and weapons. Its pretty much a losing battle before it starts.”
“And you called me just to tell me that? Zander, if it’s a suicide mission, why are you even bothering.”
“Because it has to be done. The Leader has gone too far already and needs to be stopped before his corruptions destroys us all.”
“And where do I fit into all this?”
“I hoped that you could help us in this final battle.”
“What?! Are you crazy?”
“Perhaps so. But at least it isn’t as crazy as living under the rule of a selfish dictator.”
Natalie looked away at something else, muttering something quietly.
“Natalie. Don’t look away, this is important. You need to listen to me.”
She looked back at him, biting her lower lip as she did.
“I can’t help you, Zander. To launch such an attack, and also with the enemy is far too much to ask.”
“But you’re in command aren’t you? As far as I have learned, after John died you took control over everything. And if you have enough authority to launch an tactical nuclear attack, then follow it up with a raid, then you must have enough influence for at least a temporary alliance.” She started to look away again. “Natalie!”
“I am not in command anymore.” She looked back at Zander, smiling slightly. “John isn’t dead. I found him back when we attack the citadel.”
Now Zander was in shock. “John’s alive! But how? We were all told that he died when he selfdestructed harmonia.” He remembered Natalie carrying someone on her back. “Hang. That was him, wasn’t it. When you escaped with what I was told as NER equipment.”
“Equipment! That’s my husband you’re talking about!”
“I’m just saying what the Leader told me. I honestly didn’t know it was him.”
“I guess so. Well the point is that since he’s alive, he is now back in command of the remainder of humanity.”
“Well can’t he give authority for the attack?”
“I don’t think so. He may be in command, but since the fall of Harmonia, there’s been a council that helps in decision-making. Everything’s changed up here too. I can’t say that it will be allowed.”
“Then ask him and find out.”
Natalie breathed in deep, and then slowly exhaled.
“Ok, I’ll patch you though to him. You can ask him yourself. But don’t count on anything.”
“Well I hope that that’s not the case.”

* * *

John sat down in his office looking though some of Orion’s maintenance reports to see how everything was going. The job was boring, but he enjoyed the relaxation. This was something he wasn’t able to do since he took control over the UNDF. There were some moments, but for the majority of his reign, he had been always on call for something. He hated doing it, but he knew that it had to be done to benefit human kind.
“Commander, you have a call on line 4. It’s your wife.” Came a woman’s voice over the messenger.
John placed down the folder and pressed the talk button. “Put it through to the screen could you please.”
“Yes sir.”
He leaned back and slowly swivelled his chair around to where the screen was. A few seconds later, the screen lit up with the image of Natalie, and on the other side, a humanoid. John was surprised by this, but kept his posture. What was going on? He thought.
“John, this is Zander from the New United Front, a rogue faction against the NER forces at the citadel. He has wishes to ask you something.”
John scanned Natalie for a second, just to see if it was bad or good news. But he couldn’t tell. She just looked serious. So he focused on Zander.
“Ok then. What do you have to say?” He said over his coffee mug.
“Commander John. I wish to ask for your assistance in assaulting the NER citadel.”
John choked on his coffee. “You want me to do what?”
Zander almost laughed at John’s reaction, but thought better of it.
“I wish for you to help us kill the NER Leader.”
“And what makes you think I can do that? You’re an enemy of the EUDF!”
“I realise that we have not exactly had a good relationship in the past. But that is with the NER and the Leader. We do not serve him; instead we shall revolt against him. It’s time that he was put in his place, but our forces are not strong enough to overwhelm the citadel alone. Even if we remained as a hidden force so we could get close enough to get inside directly and win, we still wouldn’t be able to kill the Leader. He keeps his strongest warriors along side with him. And then, he himself is powerful enough to stop us.”
“And you think we are?”
“Don’t act like you haven’t got enough resources to help. I know you have a large force living inside. And not only that, but you have outstandingly powerful air force. I’ve seen them in action before.”
“Our air force is no more. We have shuttles and drop ships, that’s all we have.”
“But there are still operational airbases on the surface. Three of them that we know of, and another aircraft carrier moored at North Africa. Are you telling me that you don’t have anyone who can fly those?”
“If you want them, then they’re all yours.”
“But we can’t get to them, that’s the point. If we try to obtain them, then the Leader will punish us. He doesn’t like anything that was created by humans to be used by humanoids.”
“That’s a weird decision. If I was in his place, I would have collected all the human things I could and use them.”
“You see my point then. He’s a foolish, self-centred dictator. If you knew the things he had done over the last five years, you would want to fight an impossible battle too.”
John scratched his chin. “I still do not think I can help you.”
Zander then came up with a smart comment, “This war is a pointless one. Everyone fights for what they think is right, but in truth, is it really the right thing to do? When we were fighting, I thought that we had too do it just because we were told to. That it is the point of existence to fight for your nations rights. But my views are no longer like that. Me, and many others have realised just how stupid that all is. I didn’t even know anything about you, I was just brought up to hate you, but that’s a future that someone else controlled. Not my own. I know that to survive in a world that’s already been corrupted and torn apart because of a pointless war, we need to be cooperating with each other, not building more hatred.”
John was transfixed on Zander. He stared straight into his eyes, searching for what he was really feeling like. Seeing into his mind to find out just how much of the truth he spoke. What he had said was true. Why fight someone you’ve never properly met, when you can get to know them more. Then after that, if you still don’t like them, then go with it. You shouldn’t allow hatred to manifest.
Zander looked at John, waiting for his comment on what he said. He had tried so hard to get this far, and now, after using every ounce of persuasion he had, he hoped that it would not go to failure. Without assistance from John, there was going to be no hope in their future. Finally, John stopped staring at him and smiled.
“You’ve learnt a lot, haven’t you?” Zander nodded. “I’ll see what I can do. Can you re-establish a transmission in around an hour? We’ll keep a lock on your position with our satellite, so we should be able to get another one going easily enough.”
“Yes, I can arrange that.”
“Then do so. Once you do, we’ll route your transmission to the conference room. We’ll plan, and decide it all from there.”

Chapter 28: Completing the ties
They all sat in the conference room, John sitting in his chair, General Sanders sat in his usual chair, three chairs from John, and Sergent Hobson sat next to him. Xavier was there too, sitting four chairs away on Johns left. And though she was suspended, Natalie also sat in a chair, taking advantage of John’s powers for shelter. She knew that the others were very angry at what shed done, and even revolted against John’s choice to just suspend her. Even Sanders, her biggest supporter turned his back on her eye. And though his choice for her punishment wasn’t as harsh as some of the others suggested, he still revolted against John’s choice. She was lucky, very lucky.
A red light flashed on and a quick message came through.
“Sir, we’ve received the transmission.”
“Good. Route it through monitor S-02 on secure frequency 21.03.” A screen had been positioned so that everyone in the room could get a view of what was happening.
A few moments went by. Natalie began to fiddle with a pen, but stopped when she realised that others were looking at her. Then finally the screen turned on, slightly scrabbled at first, but it cleared in just a few seconds. Of course the room was in shock. They hadn’t been told what this meeting was about, just that it was highly important.
“What is this?” Questioned Xavier.
“This is Zander. A humanoid, as you can see, that works in a rogue faction called the New United Front.”
“And how is this related to us?” Asked Xavier again.
“If you would please refrain for asking more questions, I will explain just what is going on.” The room was silent.
“Ok. Now Zander is apart of this NUF that is making preparations to attack the citadel and stop the Leader. He has requested that we be of assistance as attacking the citadel and obtaining success is far from their reach.”
“Assistance! With the enemy! That is preposterous.” Exclaimed Hobson.
“That is what he is asking. But before there are more questions, Zander, could you please help me to explain the situation.”
Zander gave a brisk nod. He felt weird doing this. “Our forces though have the element of surprise, and many highly skilled warriors to employ this assault. We lack the firepower to take them head on. For instance, the NER have aircraft, particularly the Raptors that you would have seen in combat before. Yes, we have pilots that can fly them, but it’s too dangerous for us to attempt that. We don’t have enough and they would not last against the NER’s best.
Then there is the Grand Cannon’s, which we have a plan to deactivate with, but will prove fatal against our attempts as we can’t be sure that our first plan will go to success. And even though our main attack is going to begin in the outside of the Citadel, inside the city, the Leader will still give orders for the cannon’s to attack his own.”
“So if you have such a disadvantage, why even bother.” Asked Sanders.
“Because if nothing is done, then we will be plagued by tyranny. The Leader has to be killed, and this foolish war ended. Too many lives have already been cost because of it, and I, and my fellow warriors, do not wish for it to go on anymore. Surely you agree on me with that. Is it not true that many have been killed, unwillingly, because of wars they’ve been thrown into?”
“So what if that’s true? It’s because of you that most of our race is dead!” Shouted Xavier.
“I am aware of that. But from records we’ve read of your past, there have been wars broken out between your own kind that have killed many more. The sixth world war for instance killed millions. And though we killed many of you, you too killed many of us. Some who didn’t even want to fight, but were forced to because of what the Leader told them.”
“Who are you to judge us?” Retorted Xavier. “What we have done in the past is not of your concern!”
John gave a sharp look at Xavier. “One more outburst, and I will have you expelled from this meeting. It is not your turn to speak.”
Xavier glared back and then settled himself. “Sorry sir. It wont happen again.”
John nodded, then looked back at Zander who Zander peered around the room, then focused on John for a few moments. He thought for a second more then spoke.
“As I was saying, we have done an equal amount of damage to both of our societies, causing much grief and pain. We of the NUF are willing to go all the way to end this war, and finally achieve peace. Even if it is a peace with what we were raised to regard as our enemy. But the choice is yours. If you don’t want to accept our offer and help us to defeat this tyrant known as the Leader, then we wont hold it against you. But when your home is threatened of a final full-scale attack that will engulf and destroy your world, and you need help. We wont be there anymore. Because we already took action, and don’t regret a second of it.”
These final words captured all attention and seemed to have sunk in to even Xavier. Sanders murmured something to Hobson, who quietly replied to him. Xavier leaned back in his chair and twiddled with his thumbs, thinking.
“Do you think they’ll agree?” Whispered Natalie to John.
“I don’t really know. It seems like they need more convincing. To be honest, I’m all for helping them out. Just so long as we succeed and we can finally attain peace.”
“Then why don’t you say something? You’ve got my vote.”
“Perhaps I will then.”
John cleared his throat to gain the others attention. And once he thought they were all focused in him, he began to speak.
“Such a proposal to aid an well known enemy in a battle against possibly the largest threat we’ve ever faced is one that needs to be approached with the utmost extreme caution. But in this case, the decision needs to be made now whether or not we help.”
He looked at each of them, slowly. Then he gestured his hand to Zander, who stared curiously at him.
“Though this being is a enemy of the EUDF, he is also likely to be one of our greatest allies. We can’t wait forever up here and soon actions will have to be taken. And only then, when our forces are about to fail in their final attempts, will we realise our stubbornness. Only then, will we truly realise the potential we had to finally end this suffering and get back to living a peaceful and safe life. And only then will we find out what it really is to fail on that ever twisting road of life.”
“So your taking side with this mutant?” Asked Sanders.
“I believe that is what I intended with that speech.”
“You’ve got my vote.” Smiled Natalie. John quickly glanced at her as if to say, ‘don’t get messed up in this’.
After a moment Xavier stood up. “I support your decision.”
These words came unexpected to everyone in the room. Xavier wasn’t the kind of man to agree to such things. And this seemed like the most unlikely thing he’d ever agree to. This matter was something he’d hate and probably demand a mass election among all the council before it was decided upon. But instead, he was the first to stand up and say he accepted it.
Sanders smiled. “You also have my support on this.”
Obviously, Sanders agreeing and even Xavier being the first to accept was enough for Sergeant Hobson to accept.
“Excellent. Zander, it appears that you will have reinforcements after all.”
Zander grinned widely. “Thank you all, very much. I swear that you wont regret this decision. I’ll send up all the details and plans of attack, along with how well fortified the NER are. Including our details too, so you know who’s who. Not that that should be hard. The NER wear those flashy costumes. But we’ll have some everyday clothes on. I look forward to the end of this war.”
“You are welcome. You go along with your plans, and we’ll arrive with the cavalry. Sanders and Hobson, I would like you to assist in coordinating the battle with Zander via secure intercom, T-21: 33.11.09.”
“Yes sir.”
“Good. Xavier, I’d like you to inform the other council members and help in getting the information around. You are also in charge of preparing the infantry vehicles.”
“I will do my best.”
“And Zander, I look forward to fighting along side you on the battlefield.”
“As do I… commander.”
John smirked. “I hate that title, and you’re not a soldier of the EUDF. So just call me John.”
“Ok then. John. I hope that our battle goes without fail.”
“The same towards you.” He looked back at the others and stood up. “Meeting dismissed.”

Chapter 29: Prelude to the final battle
The day after the order to prepare all craft and weapons for a final attack, everyone on Orion had heard of what was happening. Whether or not that was because word spread fast from people who couldn’t keep secrets, or if it was because it was purposely made to be found out among the public was unknown. But nether less, it had gained all attention and reports of it quickly appeared on the news.
Because of the rapid spread of news, people began to act against the assault. The fact that they would be fighting along side mutants was not their idea of a good plan. But after an after an announcement from John, people began to change their minds on the matter. There were even some people who volunteered for the EUDF, eager to go down and fight with everything they had. Even though the request were denied at first, eventually the council voted for people to enlist and help in the battle. This is what has happened over the last four days. In another four, the attack will commence, beginning at high noon and hopefully ending within 24 hours.
The same commotion was going on with the NUF with all soldiers moving back and forth, setting up their respective bases for the assault. For the last four days they had been relaying messages back and forth with Orion, each time changing the frequency and line so they wouldn’t be detected. So far, they had not been found out and this lifted the mood. Knowing that they were undetected gave them the feeling of being invisible to their enemies. And the fact that they would be assisted by the EUDF helped to boost morale.
During the relays, Zander had sent information back and forth constantly on the enemy fortifications so that strategies could be refined each time. Also, he swapped technology information with Natalie so that both sides could prosper at a high rate. This increase in technology has already taken effect, the EUDF improving weapons, and the NUF improving their society.
Tensions are slowly begging to increase as the day slowly comes closer. All hope that it is a success, but even if that is so. Many will lose their lives. And if it comes to be a failure. Then everyone will lose, and all that have died will have been in vain.

* * *

John sat in the living room with a file and a cup of coffee. It was still taking w while to adjust to his new body. Though it still remained the same as it was before, scratch some cybernetic replacements, it wasn’t the same. Because of the extensive damage, his arms had needed to be replaced with cybernetic ones from the elbow down. His left leg was new and so was his right foot. His right eye had been damaged and thus replaced also. But not only that, but he still wore the NER equipment they had placed on him.
The equipment placed on him had been connected straight into his nervous system and linked to a neural chip so it could be externally controlled. If it wasn’t for Natalie thinking fast and disrupting the controls to his arms and legs, he likely would still be under their command. But almost as soon as they got him back to Orion, they had installed a Neural Chip Chancellor, thus stopping the control frequencies from the NER. This meant he could have full control over himself.
Natalie walked into the room, poking her head around the corner first to see where John was before she came in and sat down next to him. John gave a quick glance up from the files, smiled and returned to what he was doing. Natalie seemed to have gotten used to him having metallic parts connected to him. But she still hated them. It wasn’t him. Even though she was suspended from her work, she continued to do research in secret from home. But it was very limited and she wasn’t going far at all.
It actually surprised John that she was used to his new body already. He still wasn’t used to it. Sometimes it got very embarrassing for him. Having to go to the toilet had now become a difficult task. And he was still getting used to controlling his strength. So far he’d broken 12 plates, bent seven various cutlery, torn off a door handle, and ripped five of his shirts (which seemed to displease Natalie as she had to sow them back up again).
She rested herself against him, disrupting John from his work. He thought about nudging her off him so he could concentrate, but decided against it. He enjoyed being with her every moment he could get. A full five years had gone by since he left her. An incident that should have left them permanently apart. But thanks to the cruelty of the Leader he was kept alive. And he still remembered it all too. Natalie screaming at him to get on the shuttle. Tears streaming down her cheeks. The sounds of explosions and gunfire, and scream of agony surrounding them. He couldn’t even look her properly in the face as he did because he knew that would make him falter. And when he finally got her in and the shuttle took off, even he couldn’t maintain himself anymore. All sense of strength and duty left him, and he was no longer a soldier, but a boy left out in the cold dark world. He remembered forcing himself to move along to each launch ad, causing them to self destruct individually while the surroundings began to erupt into a flame that extended a mile high. And he remembered the fighting that went on during that. The NER’s constant attempts to stop him. He was shot several times before he finally finished his job. And when he was done, he finally let go and collapsed.
“Why don’t you take a break from work for a while.” Muffled Natalie. “It’s getting late.”
John locked down at her, then placed his work on the coffee table. He peered over at the coffee and almost pulled a face at it. Food didn’t taste the same anymore. It either tasted like stale, bland or rubbery. The coffee tasted stale to him, even though it was one of the best top shelf brands on Orion “Descoffex”.
“I guess it is getting pretty late. And there’s a lot of work tomorrow, being there only two more days.”
Natalie sat up straight, pushing some hair out of her eyes as she did. John hoisted himself up, almost too quickly. He un-tensed his muscles, and strolled off.
“Don’t make too much noise,” called Natalie. “Nicky’s asleep.”
John looked back at her, then walked back over.
“You coming?”
“Yeah, in a little while.”
“No, I didn’t mean that. I meant the final battle. Are you coming?”
Natalie bit her lower lip and stared at the table.
“I don’t know.” She looked back at him. “Hang on. Are you actually giving me the choice this time? Your not going to try and stop me?”
John almost laughed, “No. I’d rather you stayed up here where it’s safe.”
“Well. Then why are you asking me?”
“I don’t know. I never really thought about it.”
Natalie stared curiously at him for a second, then stood up from the couch. I’m going to bed.” She stopped briefly at the end of the room, and turned her head around slightly. “Are you coming?” She said teasingly.
John smiled then stood up too and followed her back to their room.

* * *

“Get that equipment loaded. Times wasting. Lex, get those crates up to sector five as soon as you can.” Zander was ordering everyone around, glancing down at the clip-board and checking what had and hadn’t been done yet.
There was around 31 hours left until the battle commenced so everyone was hurrying around trying to get things done. It was getting difficult now. They had to evacuate sectors in secret so that civilians wouldn’t be caught up in the combat. But it was already presumed that even if they did that, there would still be many civilian casualties. It was a factor that had been considered over and over again, but couldn’t be eliminated. Not without giving away their entire operation. It was risky enough as it was right now. With all the work being done, it was amazing that they hadn’t been detected. This didn’t help tensions.
“Captain, all preparations at Sector 3 have been completed.” Said a humanoid in a brown tank top.
“Good, start helping out with preparations at sector 2.”
“Right away.”
Zander had moved up in respects with all NUF. Most regarded him as their own leader. The one who would lead them victory. And he didn’t intend on letting them down on that. He was prepared to do everything he could to win this and wouldn’t stop no matter what got in the way. Failure was an ever looming threat right now and they lingered right on the edge of its borders. They had to do everything possible to tip things in their favour, and so far it was all going to plan.
Zander looked down at his watch. 30 hours, 21 minutes exact. He scanned across the cavern. Many brave humanoids were in here that would try just as hard as he would to attain victory in this final battle. And it saddened him to know that by the end of this, likely not even half would be left.

Chapter 30: Finale Part 1: The last battle begins
The dropships left the station fifteen minutes from the attack to be commenced. They wanted to time it perfectly with the ground force. They had assembled 21 dropships and upgraded some attack craft for re-entry, just like the dropships. They needed all the firepower they could get. Their interiors began to heat for a brief minute before cooling down as they entered the atmosphere. Quick messages relayed over the intercom every now and then.
The unit had to be divided into three groups. The first group had the toughest of the force. Mainly infantry, but within one of the ships, John rode along with the survival super-humans Natalie had created. And even though it was hard on her, Natalie came along. Riding in another ship with some of her super-human squad. She was planning on meeting up with Gina and helping her take control of the cannons.
After the dropships landed their payload, they would leave and return again with the second unit. And depending on how many of them survived, they would have to make only three trips each. But once one felled, it meant that another would have to make its return trip. The third unit and a small part of the first had outfitted tanks. Briefly made and not very strong, but could support the larger weapons. And also some armour suits. Originally made to help in heavy duty maintenance, some were fitted with weapons to assist in the support of ground units.
They weren’t the only ones with heavy weapons. Zander had informed them that they had taken command over twelve tanks and, if they were lucky, could take a hanger and use some aircraft from there. Since the whole operation, their size had increased. They now matched the NER sixteen to one. And the added human support changed that to a pleasing ten to one. Considering their original assumption (25 to 1), this was a highly appreciated and appeasing fact.
The ships began to rock as they began their manoeuvres. They had come in range of the citadel and now had to avoid the enemy attack. This was que for the ground forces to begin. Down on the ground, the NUF forces began their assault, taking the NER by surprise. They had gained their advantage and had to use it before it ran out.
The fight was becoming an onslaught as guns blazed between the two forces on the ground, and began to increase in ferocity as the dropships began to drop their payload. They landed their main force along with the NUF forces to help provide the back up. This consisted of the few tanks and suits. Four other aircraft, only four because one was shot down, landed at the edge of the citadel. This was John’s ship, and Natalie’s ship. The other two had some of the EUDF’s finest to help gain afoot hold inside the citadel. So far the plan was going completely to success, and the dropship casualty report was only three. Two downed upon entering, and one seemed to be taken out after dropping off its group. Luckily all occupants made it off that one.
“Get moving!” Yelled John. “Delta, with me. Beta, go with Alpha. Natalie, you’ll take charge with Alpha.”
“Yes sir.”
John shook his head disapprovingly. Natalie didn’t have to call him sir. She was his wife, but it seemed the right thing as they were on the battlefield.
“OK! Split up. Natalie, you know where to go.”
“Yes. Come everyone, lets get moving!”
They, all eighteen, ran off through a doorway and into the citadel. Then John led his group through another doorway. Their mission was going to be a difficult one. They would have to find and destroy the enemy armoury, thus crippling the NER’s forces. Natalie would have to find Gina and hold up with her. Which would also be difficult, but if Gina’s group made it successfully to the location, then it should make it easier.

* * *

Out at the perimeters, Zander commanded a large platoon of warriors to take a stronghold. A section that was well defended by NER, containing two tanks, and around thirty troops. Zander, along with the group with him, made for eighty-five. He knew that the main front would be easy, but once they reached the citadel, they would be the ones outnumbered. BOOM!!! A massive explosion went off only twenty meters from Zander, sending debris flying, taking some of his platoon with it. The cannons were now active. Much quicker than they had originally intended for them to be. But there it took a minute reload. They had to persevere and move on.
“RPG’s. Aim at the base of the structure… Ready… FIRE!!!”
Nine projectiles propelled themselves towards the base of the largest structure, one that was closet to the tanks. The projectiles exploded the wall causing it to collapse. Just how Zander intended it too. The debris fell down and crushed the two tanks, leaving them unusable. The NER troops immediately began to retreat, occasionally firing back as they did.
“Press on! There’s still plenty more where that came from!”
He jumped off the pile of fallen rubble he was on and charged off along with the others, occasionally stopping at a high point and observing the area. Another explosion caused him to fly off where he stood. He landed hard against a wall and slumped down, knocked out.

* * *

“MOVE IT! We need to take out those dammed air defences!” Ordered Sergeant Hobson. “Ok, move into B formation. Target… fire Hell-birds!”
The missiles quickly jetted away to strike their targets, causing them to explode from the impact force. The Hell-birds were a specially improved version of the Antimatter Sledge-hammer missiles. Being slightly sleeker and more carefully crafted so they could penetrate the target before they exploded.
Sergeant Hobson lead the air assault, which was composed of seven T-19 Eagles. A very fast and efficient fighter jet, first produced as the T-17 Strike in the fifth world war. This craft was modified to what is today. This T-19 model is really an improvement of the T-18 Eagle simply because it can go through re-entry.
The air squad, though small, was more than capable, consisting of their best. Including war veteran, Lieutenant Katherine Oak. Possibly one of the best fighter aces the EUDF has ever seen. She originally worked with the IFE, but as soon as it disbanded, she enlisted in the EUDF.
Hobson was also a very skilled pilot. Fighting in WW5 and the present one as not only a ground tactician, but also an onsite air assault director. He has already proved himself an invaluable asset, gaining his golden wings within only eight years of being a pilot. Something that would usually take around ten years.
“Enemy surface to air missiles are inbound, move to c formation and launch Hell birds at those AA’s.”
They all circled around, swiftly dodging the enemy missiles, then angling down for a missile lock, leaving only 100 meters of distance before firing and flying up again, whipping their tail around to shake off anything else that was following.
“Incoming enemy birds. Move into E formation and take them out. We can’t allow those NER to take shots at our ground force.”
All craft immediately flew off into what was E formation. Which was splitting into two designated groups, flying low, and pretending too lose control of your craft. This sometimes threw the enemy off, giving an upper hand. And it seemed to be working. Six enemy aircraft, the ones called ‘Raptors’ began to drop like flies as they were torn apart by the high velocity Vulcan Cannons on the T-19’s.
“Incoming AA fire. Heat seekers approaching from 12 North, North, East and 41 South, West.” Shouted Hobson. “Evasive manoeuvres!”
All seven craft zipped off, dodging the enemy fire. Two enemy aircraft had drawn back to avoid being hit, but as soon as the AA’s ad stopped, they came right back in.
“MAYDAY! My craft’s right wing has caught fire! I’M GOING DOWN! Position 211:343 Longitude, 422… AHHHH!!!” The line went static.
“Damn it! Regroup, B formation!”
They all came back in to their formation, Hobson looked around at them. Corporal Davison had been killed. He looked to his right and saw another craft missing. Major Peterson was gone.
“Major Peterson, I have lost sight of your craft. Respond now.”
Nothing came back.
“Major Peterson! Reply now!”
Still nothing.
“Shit.”
Red lights began to flash and warnings came on. Another missile lock.
“Evasive manoeuvres!”

* * *

Gina ran down the hallway, almost fainting from the extra exertion of energy. She wasn’t used to running for so long and at such high speeds. But she didn’t complain, either because she didn’t want to let on that she wasn’t up to the job, or because she was too out of breath to bother.
“Take cover!” Shouted one of her bodyguards.
They all pressed their backs against the wall as bullets zipped down their turn off. The NER had worked out already that they were up to something and were trying to stop them.
“Ok, clear”
Gina forced herself back into a run as she followed after her five bodyguards. They were proving very useful, just like Merik had promised. But they moved too fast for her. They didn’t go ahead of her, they were her security, but they forced her to press on even though she was tired.
“GET DOWN!”
An explosion of flame erupted through a doorway, catching one of the bodyguards in its wake. Bullets immediately followed. One of the bodyguards had shoved Gina away to get her out of the explosion bias, but she had been shoved a little too hard, causing her to lose balance and slam into the wall. Another explosion came, this time from a grenade one of the bodyguards had thrown. She looked around to see what had happened. Only three remained. One laid, half crisped, against the wall, and the other wasn’t far and in a similar state.
“Ok, it’s clear. We need to keep moving. It isn’t far now.”
One of the bodyguards abruptly helped Gina up and they all began to run once more. The defence control room wasn’t far now, just one more corridor.

Chapter 31: Finale Part 2: Foothold
“Sir, are you alright?” Came a voice. “Sir, are you alright? Can you stand?”
Zander finally opened his eyes to reveal two soldiers standing above him. He rubbed the back of his head and winced slightly at the pain. He’d hit his head hard.
“How long was I out?”
“Only about 7 minutes sir.”
He hefted himself back up and grabbed the nearest weapon from the ground.
“Ok. We’ve wasted too much time. Lets get moving!”
They once more began to run off towards the citadel. Zander stumbled a bit at first as he slowly regained his balance, but the knock to the head had caused disorientation. The skies had lit up into a brilliant orange as fires raged across the citadel. A large explosion only 100 metres from where Zander was confirmed that the cannons were still going. This worried him. Gina had been sent out ahead of time, he hoped that nothing had happened to her.
Bullets whizzed past, forcing Zander to seek shelter. Ahead some NER troops had entrenched themselves in some debris, providing them with adequate support and protection. They would be cut down unless they found away to get rid of them. He quickly came up with an idea.
“Hey, you.” One of the soldiers with a large pack came over to him. “What’s inside that pack of yours? Do you have any explosives?”
“Explosives. Yeah, I got some of those in here somewhere.”
“Well get them out.”
The soldier fumbled quickly through the bag, then removed three small C4 satchels. One of those would be enough to take out the entrenchment. Zander took the C4, then gave an order to give down some suppressive fire, just enough to distract them from what he was doing.
The guns went off again as Zander moved off, around a wall and into another structure. He slowly weaved through what seemed to be a house, checking each room as he did for NER troops. But he didn’t find any. He finally emerged on top of the roof, giving a nice view of the entrenchment. He readied the satchel and leaped over to an opening, then stuffed it inside and run back in the other direction.
“WHAT THE? SHIT! GET THE HELL…” A large explosion cut off the yells from inside.
Zander poked his head up from where he had taken cover, checking to see if it was clear. The explosion had dealt serious damage to where the entrenchment was. Nothing would have survived.
“Ok. KEEP MOVING!” He shouted.
The citadel was getting closer and closer. Soon, they would have the outer perimeter, then all they needed to do was take the inner.

* * *

“Grenade out!” Shouted John as he tossed a frag-grenade around a corner. As soon as it went off, he zipped around the corner brandishing his weapon. Three targets down. Zero left.
“All clear. Lets keep moving.”
They’d been moving for a while now, and so far they had been unthreatened. Not a single casualty, and that seemed to have boosted the squad’s moral. John wasn’t giving the enemy any chance to get advantage. As soon as he spotted them, he took them down quickly. Averaging a minute to take down several opponents, depending on where they were compared to him.
The sounds of battle had grown much louder as the minutes ticked by. Which was no surprise as the attack was now fully underway, and every NER would be at level 1 battle stations.
“Commander… Second unit is deployed… 19% causality… east forces are prevailing…” The line went to static.
John smiled as he continued to speed along. He didn’t bother trying to regain contact; he had heard what he wanted. Another reply would come in eventually saying that the third unit was deployed.
“GRENADE!”
Two small, greenish-grey objects bounced towards them. Grenades, possibly shrapnel, ready to do damage. But while the others immediately took for cover, John simply ran over, booted the grenades, and kept running. Explosions took off around the corner where the grenades had originated, a lurching burst of flame coming around, engulfing John. The others watched in horror at this, not sure what to do. Then there was gunfire, followed by hollow screams.
One of the soldiers stood up and looked around at the squad. He motioned for three others to come with him, and they slowly edged towards where the incident had happened, their guns at the ready. It was quite hard to see through the haze of smoke and dust. Suddenly a figure silhouetted in the smoke, and emerged to reveal the slightly burnt and bloodied commander.
The soldiers lowered their weapons and sighed relief. John looked at them for a second, and then motioned to keep moving. The soldiers thought twice about that. It wasn’t every day that you saw someone charge through the explosion of a grenade and take out the enemy.
“What part of get moving seems to escape your minds!”
The order came clear and threatening. The commander had no time for screwing around, and expected the same from the others. They quickly ran to catch up to him and continued their journey.

* * *

More gunfire erupted outside the door of the control room. Gina frustratingly fiddled with the consoles to shut down the cannons. So far she’d disrupted the fire-rate of the first cannon and slowed its reload down by 15%. But the second cannon was still quite active. The pressure was mounting to shut them down, and the enemy continued to try and stop them.
“HOLD YOUR FIRE!”
Gina looked back briefly at the door as it began to open. One of her bodyguards walked in with a grin.
“The human tech unit has finally arrived.”
She stopped what she was doing and took a few steps over to the door. A couple of human’s walked in carrying some wounded soldiers with them. Then a woman wandered in breathing heavily while she finished reloading her shotgun. She peered around the room, then centred on Gina and half smiled.
“Are you the one who’s supposed to help me shut down the defences?” Asked Gina.
The woman straightened herself up. “Yes. That would be me.” She replied, wearingly.
Natalie was taking care in her actions while in the presents of a humanoid. But more so now she was with Gina. It wasn’t that she disliked her, but that she lacked the same trust that John had. He seemed to be capable of accepting anything, depending on the circumstances, and cooperate accordingly.
“So,” she began, “What would you like me to do now I’m here?”
Gina looked around at the various instruments before giving her answer.
“Well. It depends on what you specialise at.” She walked back over to the console she was working on. “Right now I’m trying to shut down the main cannons before they tear apart our forces.” She briefly paused to consider the word ‘our’, then continued. “So far I’ve managed to almost render the first one inoperable. But the second one is proving resilient.”
“Are there any special codes?” Asked Natalie as she approached another console.
“Well, there have been a few of them. But none too complicated. It’s mainly the complexity of the cannons systems themselves that have me baffled. This is the kind of thing that a technician would know about. Not a free-lance hacker.”
Natalie scanned through the cannons control diagrams and maintenance folders for a while as Gina continued to try and stop the cannons permanently. Finally Natalie stepped over to Gina and had a look at what she had done so far.
Gina was curious. “Have you found something?”
“I believe so, yes.”
She moved through some files until she found what she wanted. Layouts of the cannons support mainframe and supply conducts.
“The cannons run via an electronic CPU wired directly into a main-hub found at the main control centre of the Citadel. It’s well hidden. Disguised inside various Sub-CPU’s that houses the less required information of the Citadel. Inside that are the back-up system-reboot controls, electronic aiming systems, and even an AI.”
Gina peered through the information and did so for an extended period of time, particularly to hide her slight look of jealousy that Natalie had found out how to stop the cannons in such a short time.
“Ok. I see what needs to be done.” She began to input various commands into the console. “We shut down the main-hub, thus taking out its reboot systems and, if we are lucky, the AI too. Then we can cut off the electronic command relays to the cannons and stop them from being used.”
“Exactly. But it wont be that easy. The mainframe is still highly protected. So we’ll need something to wear it down first.”
“I could infect it with a virus.”
“Yes. A virus should do the trick. Can you concoct one up now?”
“Watch me.”

* * *

Enemy fighters came in from all angles now, trying desperately to take down the human aircraft. Neither side showed any sign of faltering in the face of their enemy, but luckily, the humanoids were unable to keep up with the skilled human pilots.
“More bogies at 9 o-clock!” Shouted Adrian
“I’ll move to intercept.” Answered David, “Scorpion away… direct hit!”
“Lieutenant.” Shouted Hobson. “You’ve got three tailing you. Watch your six!”
“Roger that. Can someone assist me in manoeuvre 5?”
“I’m with you. Be there is three.” Answered Luke.
Luke’s jet came along side hers, then both of them swivelled towards each other, narrowly missing wings, sped around, and loop-ed around the enemy jets, unleashing a barrage of gunfire as they did. Two fighters got caught in the fire and were sent into a spinning blaze.
“I’ll take the last one.” Came Adrian, “Tracer away… hit!”
The enemy fighter suddenly began to spin out of control as the tracer latched on to its hull and begun to send electronic signals to the crafts computer. This resulted in loss in control, causing the plane to automatically change its settings from autopilot, to increased thrust, air brakes, missile fire, and other things, which used the onboard computer systems. The cockpit finally caught on fire, causing the occupant to eject.
“Shall I finish the job?”
“Don’t waste ammo on escapee’s. They aren’t the problem. Focus on the enemy at hand.” Orders Hobson.
“Roger that.”
“Sir, something appears to be wrong with your left wing.” Said Katherine.
“What? I can see it. Doesn’t seem like a problem.”
His cockpit lit up with warning signs again. This time it was different. The warning signs said there was low fuel. But the fuel metre said it was still at half. Was it an electronic failure? More warnings went off. This time it was for a missile lock.
“SIR! GET OUT OF THERE!”
“Something’s wrong. My bird isn’t responding. Can’t get out of missiles path!”
“I’ll intercept the enemy.” Responded David who took off towards the missiles, trying to shoot them down with his main gun. Suddenly an enemy craft came at him, causing him to move away from the missile.
“DAMN! THAT MISSILES GOING TO HIT!”
“Not if I can help it!” Shouted Katherine.
She flew off towards the missile, blazing away with her main gun, and even firing off a missile to throw it off course.
“It’s not going go to work. I’m going to have to eject. Lieutenant, your in charge. Good luck!” He ejected from the cockpit seconds before the missile collided with his jet, causing it to erupt and combust.
“No! Bastards!!” She took off towards Hobson. “Someone watch my back. I’m going to cover his decent.”
“I’m on it.” Replied Wesley.
“I’ll be fine. You focus on taking out those enemy fighters! THAT’S AN ORDER!”
Katie bit her lip. “Yes sir.”
She wearingly went back to the battlefield, taking on two more enemy fighters.
“All craft, move into formation E. Use manoeuvre 3 and 4 to get around them. And 6 if necessary.”
They all responded their acknowledgement, and continued their airborne onslaught.

* * *

“Push through the front!” Shouted Zander, “Watch your heads, don’t let the enemy have a clear shot at you.”
They had managed to edge almost right on the outside of the citadels walls. But the entrance they wanted to get through was heavily defended. Right now, there was no possible way of getting through. At least not with artillery fire and tanks blazing away. Not even the human support team that had grouped up with them had enough. If only their tanks were still operatable. Around half an hour ago, the three tanks that were with them had been hit by a round from one of the cannons, turning the tanks into scrap, and finishing off any unlucky bystanders.
“Falling bird! Take cover!” Came a yell.
Zander scanned the sky quickly and saw the approaching craft hurtling towards them. It looked as if it would hit them directly. And there was no way of getting clear of its destructive path. Zander took cover behind some debris, but knew it wouldn’t really help. The craft came close enough for him to feel its heat. But instead of it hitting him, it glided over and struck the NER tanks guarding the entrance. A stroke of luck.
Zander peered over from his hiding spot then heard an order that sounded like, “Storm the front!” The human troops began to sprint off towards the entrance, finishing off the NER that were there. Zander quickly joined in with the march, shouting out his command to storm the front as well.

* * *

The Leader sat in the large circular hall. Comfortably sitting in his chair while observing the screens of onslaught. And enjoying himself while doing it.
“Sir. The final tests have been done. Project-J is now ready.” Spoke a humanoid as he cautiously entered the dark room.
The Leader sat in his chair watching the screen for a few more seconds before turning his attention to the messenger.
“Get ready to initialise the activation stage on my command. Our guest should arrive there soon.”
“Yes sir. Right away.” He then hurriedly left the room.
The screens moved around the Leader for a few seconds until finally stopping with the desired screen facing the Leader. The screen that was tracking the movements of John.

Chapter 33: Finale Part 3: Complications
John moved onwards, stopping only to check around corners and objects or allow his squad to catch up. His headset began to fizz with static until a message finally came through.
“… have landed… all forces are… causality total… breached at western entrance…” The line went dead again.
From what he had heard, all forces were deployed and they had finally gained entrance to the citadel. But it was unknown how many had been cost for this. The line came on again, this time more clearly.
“John. We’ve done it. The cannons… it should be much… now. How are you doing?” It was Natalie announcing their victory over the NER defences.
John stopped briefly and scanned around another corner. Then responded.
“I’m fine. Just a few scratches, that’s all. So far we’ve been unchallenged so we’ve been able to complete our objectives. We head towards the main sectors of… AHH!!!” John threw the headset down on the floor, placing a hand over his ear as he did. The headset had begun to screech menacingly, too much for the ear to handle. And it wasn’t stopping.
“What the hell was that about?”
The headset didn’t stop screeching, so John stomped it in anger to stop it. Almost as soon as he did, his squad came around the corner, their weapons blazing.
“Sir, we’re being ambushed!”
“What! How many?”
“Lots! But we’ve lost seven already and four are wounded.”
“Damn! FALL BACK!”
He turned to move off and then heard a metallic slammed behind him. He looked around to se what had happened and came face to face with a heavy metallic wall. A blast door perhaps. He smashed his fist on it to get it away, but couldn’t. Screams echoed on the other side. His squad was getting annihilated, and there was nothing he could do about it.
A faint haze began to fill spray out from holes in the wall. A TRAP! John hesitated briefly, cursed loudly, and began to run in the other direction to escape the gas attack.

* * *

Natalie threw her headset to the ground and almost immediately stomped it to pieces. Shaking her head as she did to get the ringing out of her head.
“What was that about?” asked Gina.
“My headset just went crazy when I was talking with John. It was crazy!”
“What? How did that happen? Was there something wrong with the headset?”
“No, they’re working fine.” She snapped on one thought, “Oh no! John must be in trouble! Why else would the headset go crazy like that?”
“Are you sure? It could have been a malfunction.”
“No. That was not right. Something bad is or has even already happened to John. I need to get to him!”
“Are you crazy?! There’s NER everywhere. You’ll be killed if you go looking for him.”
Natalie thumped her fist against the wall. “DAMN IT!”
Gina didn’t know what to say. So she stood there looking at Natalie. The turned around and looked out through the cracked, reinforced glass window and the blazing battlefield outside. Natalie worried about John’s safety reminded her of Zander. Was he all right? She hoped so. The battle was dangerously out of hand.

* * *

CRASH! Sargent Hobson landed hard, gliding down through an opening in the side of the Citadel. He had sprained his right arm, making it painful to move, and there were some gashes on his legs. But apart from that, he was relatively ok. He cut off the straps with his knife, got up, and took the folded up SMG hiding in the side of the seat. He loaded the gun and took the safety off his 9mm and placed the knife back in its sheaf.
The opening leaded into what looked like a storage room filled with broken wooden crates. There was a slight sent of food among the smell of smoke. Looking more closely, he noticed the various dry foods and canned things that laid on the floor.
Loud noises came from the other side of the door that was six meters from where he stood. There were gunshots and yells. Then the door collapsed and a Humanoid fell through it, dead. He readied his weapon, taking slight cover. The humanoid lying on the floor looked to be NER. And sure enough, to confirm this further, a NUF soldier came through the door to check the room. (He recognised this as NUF as, unlike the NER who wore the coloured costumes that stood out, they wore standard clothes that you expected civilians to have. And not only that, but they all wore a cloth around their left arm. A plan thought up before the battle to show they were not an enemy).
He stood up, slightly relieved. The humanoid saw him, raised his weapon instantly and then lowered it when he saw that it wasn’t an enemy.
“You need to be careful when jumping out like that,” His voice was slightly squeaky and seemed jumpy, “I could have blown your head off!”
“Yes, of course. I guess I hit my head too when I landed.”
The humanoid looked over t the seat, then back at Hobson.
“You a pilot then?”
“Yes.”
The humanoid smiled.
“Brilliant. We’re heading over to the hangers now to try and catch some aircraft. We could use an extra pilot since we’ve lost five of ours already. A third pilot is well welcomed.”
Now Hobson smiled. “That sounds like a perfect idea. Sure, I’ll join you.”
He walked over to the humanoid and extended his hand as a gesture. The humanoid looked at him for a moment then took his hand.
“I’m Yetes by the way.” Another walked in the door. “And this is Eric.”
Eric gave a curt nod.
“Nice to meet you two. I’m Sargent Hobson.”
“Sargent? That’s a really high rank among you people isn’t it?”
“Well, yes it is.”
Yetes stood at attention. “Sir. Pleasure to meet you.” He relaxed and moved over to Eric. “The hangers this way. About another 200 meters I think. We better get moving.”
Hobson quickly followed. He was eager to get back in the air and continue the fight.

* * *

“HOLD YOUR POSITION!” Ordered Zander. “RPG’s! GET THE HELL UP HERE AND FIRE ON THOSE BUNKERS!”
Two soldiers quickly came up and took aim.
“FIRE!”
They fired almost perfectly in sync, and the rockets almost repeated the process, striking their targets heavily and sending their insides up in flames and turning it to debris.
So far they’d made it into a large courtyard, and things were slowly becoming worse. Their access to the whole of the citadel was on the other side. And the NER held their positions with their lives.
“ADVANCE THE SUITS! COVER THE ALLIED ADVANCE!” Shouted the human captain.
Zander was rather impressed at his skill. To have landed his entire squad, fought his way through enemy lines when completely surrounded, and then to have made it out with enough troops to bring down tanks, was something that was to be admired. Regardless of their differences and recent feud, he respected the man and all that followed his command. And he couldn’t have been happier to be supported by any other human.
“GET SOME SUPPORT FIRE ON THAT BALCONY!” Ordered Zander as he ducked for cover, trying not to get his head taken off. “ADVANCE THE LINES!”
The enemy fire ceased in his spot just long enough to advance to the next hiding spot. He leaped up over the debris he hid behind, and leaped over to a pre-set barricade just in time to avoid a missile. He peeped over the top and looked at the enemy. Then gazed in horror. The NER had positioned a few large, mechanical monstrosities outside the massive double doors to the citadel. Three of them, standing tall, their heavy weapons, duel chain guns and a pack on the left shoulder loaded with missiles, pointed straight at Zander and his comrades. He did not know what to do. He didn’t even know that the NER had such things. Then they opened fire.

Chapter 34: Finale Part 4: Game over

“Incoming missiles from 5 0-clock. Watch your tails.” Spoke Katharine
“My birds tailfin doesn’t seem to be operating properly. Can someone get rid of that pest for me?” Asked Wesley.
“Right!” Answered Adrian. “Take… THIS!” A missile sped off towards the enemy fighter, striking its left wing and sending it into a spin towards the ground.
“There’s incoming from my 12 o-clock. Three of them. Moving to engage. Can someone lend a hand?” Prompted Tracy.
“My tailfin’s back again. I’ll move to help.” Replied Wesley.
“Move out of the way. I’ll scatter them.” Adrian ordered. “Scatter Darts away!”
The ‘Scatter Darts’ was a simple weapon. Using a single missile first, shortly after firing, ejected into several smaller missiles. Not very effective due to their size, but they were enough to warn off the enemy. And as usual, when the many missiles sped off towards the enemy fighters, the fighters veered off to avoid collision.
“TAKE THIS!” Shouted Tracy as she blazed away with her fighter’s main gun.
“I GOT ONE!” Shouted Adrian as he pursued a downed fighter a bit more towards the ground below.
So far they had managed to stay out most trouble. Keeping the enemy guessing and taking them out before reinforcements arrived. They only needed to keep this up until enemy air support reached zero. But their numbers seemed endless. And the T-19’s would eventually run out of ammo and fuel.
“We’ve got more incoming. Three targets are on approach.” Luke paused. “Hey, these are different than before. Have they brought us something tougher to test ourselves with?”
“If it’s something new then keep your distance. Wait for an opening then respond in kind.” Ordered Katharine.
“If we wait, then they may rip us to shreds before we can react.”
Katharine thought for a few seconds. “Ok, anyone who has a Scatter Dart left, aim and fire.”
Three craft responded, Tracy, Wesley and Adrian. And almost in perfect sync, they fired off their missile. The two of the craft veered off course, but the lead craft simply wobbled around a bit. Dodging the small projectiles with ease. The other two seemed to be maintaining their distance, but the lad one continued its path. And towards Tracy’s craft as well.
She noticed this almost immediately and acted accordingly. “So you want to take me on do you? Well bring it!” She looped around a bit, preparing two of her Hell-birds. “Dodge this!” She finished her loop, releasing the two missiles, which glided off at a high velocity towards their target.
The single craft didn’t attempt to dodge these. In fact, it blazed away at one, striking it and causing it to explode. And since Katharine had chosen to engage their heat-seeking feature, the second missile lost its target in the fire, passing through, missing the craft, and then flying off in a random direction before taking a turn for the ground and exploding halfway.
“Is that all you’ve got Katharine? I thought you were better than that.”
Katharine snapped as she recognised Sargent Hobson’s voice over the intercom. He continued to wards her craft, and as if to remove anymore doubt, he rolled so that their cockpits would pass, giving enough time to see who was inside. Katharine was speechless as Hobson glided over her and even seemed to be waving as he did. She quickly switched on her intercom.
“Sargent? But… but how? You were shot down? And now you’re up here again?”
“I’ll keep it in short for you. I landed, met up with some UNF pilots, got to a hanger, and” he paused, “we ‘borrowed’ some aircraft. And some new models too. These things handle better than our T-19’s.”
The other two craft began to approach. They slowed enough to not alert the others. They didn’t want to be shot down be their allies.
“You’ve done a good job I see. Very well done. You can take a break from commanding now.”
“Um, yes sir. Glad to see you ok.”
“We have incoming. Two Raptors. And some of our new model friends.” Spoke Luke.
Then a different message over the intercom came. “Request… assistance… enemy have pinned… air support please… they’re going to tear us… we need air support… coordinates… sent… please respond…”
“Looks like we have other issues. Ok, Luke, Adrian, follow those coordinates and give support. Everyone else move into Formation C. Yete’s and Eric. Try to keep up. Lets do this!”

* * *

Ammunition blasted away at the surroundings of the courtyard, slowly minimising cover that was left. The heavy mechanical beats that stood at the entrance seemed to have an unlimited supply of ammo. Either that, or it was because no one was able to get a shot off to take out those that continued to resupply then. They only needed to keep firing for a few more minutes and then there would be nothing left to safely hide behind.
“I can’t take this any longer!” A soldier zipped around from hiding wielding a grenade launcher and fired randomly. “DIE!”
“You fool!” Another soldier tried to pull him back to safety, but was held back by others.
The single soldier continued to fire until bullets streamed throughout his entire body, shredding away at the flesh. His efforts were futile, as none of the grenades had even come close to where the machines stood.
“Its over.” Spoke a soldier next to Zander.
This angered Zander so he turned around then hit the soldier on the head.
“If you continue that attitude then it will be over before it even happens!”
The soldier didn’t say another word, instead just slumped down against the wall and started to sob. He wasn’t the only one who felt like this. Others were already acting similarly. No one had the strength to continue. All day they’d been fighting to get this far, and when they were so close, it all ended. They were just too few to triumph against such. Sadly, their mood was starting to rub of even on Zander.
He looked down at his gun. He carried a standard issue pulse rifle. An NER creation adapted from the M60 then resized after to make it more efficient. It held a decent 35 round clip and attachable grenade launcher, which Zander had fitted with an incantation grenade. As its name suggested, it boasted a remarkable fire rate and velocity level. Enough to tear apart even the toughest of infantry. But was it enough to bring down one of those machines? Zander began to think about this. At how he may, just may be able to flip around and take out at least one of those machines before they shot him. How much time would he need though? Would he even be able to take the shot and bring one down in time? And what if his efforts were also futile like the previous soldiers? He was an exceptional shot, and he had confidence. Maybe if he shot the grenade out first, then used that to distract, even if just for a second, and bring down one of the machines. It sounded like a good plan. And he couldn’t just sit there and do nothing until he had nothing to hide behind. Yes, that was what he would do.
Zander checked his ammo, reloaded, and held it close to him. And breathed in, preparing himself for what he was going to do. Some soldiers watching his actions, curious at what he was going to do. But they didn’t know. They would never expect him to do something so drastic. Zander calmed himself and began to mentally count down when he would wing about and attack. ‘5… 4… 3… 2… 1…’
“Look up there. The air support has arrived! WE’RE SAVED!”
Zander peered up at the sky. Sure enough, two aircraft sped off towards their location; their weapons aimed and ready to bring down the entrance. The enemy noticed this too and began to shoot upward. But now it was too late for them to act as three missiles and a payload of ammunition blasted away at them. The NER troops were torn asunder by the deadly accurate weapons, and the machines that guarded the doors were cut down before them. The two jets gilded up towards the sky, barrel rolling as they did to show off their triumph. Zander smiled and sighed his relief.
“Ok. Advance quickly before they can regroup themselves!”
They all, humans and humanoids, advanced directly at the citadel. Breaching its blown apart entrance, spilling into its chambers. There were few that retaliated against their assault. And out of the, amazingly numerous, amount troops that didn’t fight back had decided to surrendered before them. This was victory! The citadel had fallen, and the NER practically no more. All that stood in the way of a total victory, was the defeat of the Leader.

* * *

“Gina, listen to this.” She turned up the speakers.
“… We’ve done it! All troops have gained access to the citadel She turned up the speakers.
“… We’ve done it! All troops have gained access to the citadel! NER personally are surrendering everywhere! WE’VE DONE IT! WE HAVE GAINED VICTORY…”
Gina smiled widely and almost began to jump up and down in excitement.
“YES! WE’VE DONE IT!”
Natalie joined in, surrendering to her happiness and uncomfortableness of being in a battlefield and celebrated with her.
“We win! And to think, we are part of the reason for that!” Said Natalie.
“Your right. If it weren’t for us, those cannons may have torn them apart.”
“I’m just amazed at how quickly it was. It’s only been around six or seven hours.”
“I know.” Gina went looked at the other soldiers. “What? And you two don’t see this as a time to celebrate? Go tell the others.”
They shrugged at each other and cheered, then left the room to tell the others outside. Which followed with more cheering.
“Oh yes. I should try and get radio contact with them. I want to know if Zander’s alright.”
Natalie stopped celebrating. With all the pressure and hard work she’d been doping, she had almost forgot that it had been ages since she’d heard from John. Gina noticed this sudden reaction and clasped her hands to her mouth.
“Oh my. I almost forgot. Your husband is still somewhere in the citadel.”
Natalie wandered over to a chair and sat down with her face in her hands. She didn’t know what to say or do. She nit her lower lip and trembled slightly at the thoughts of what might have happened played through her head. Gina walked over to her and tried to comfort her.
“I’m sure he’s alright. He’s supposed to be one of the strongest people in the world isn’t he? I doubt, even if he is in serious trouble, that anything will be able to stop him.”
It didn’t seem to be working. She made no noise or movement.

Chapter 35: Project-J
John run down another corridor, dodging some gunfire from some robots that irregularly resembled those in his memory. The robots he faced years ago when he was trapped deep down below this place. The Zegato’s had killed a friend of his. And even though he had only known him for such a short amount of time while down there. They had become close friends, having brought down a superhuman together, and a very dangerous one at that. The actually most eerie thing of it was that these machines could actually be the Zegato’s themselves! But how they had been stopped then reprogrammed to serve the NER was beyond John’s knowledge of such. All he knew was how to run from them.
Another corner and he skidded to a halt as a metallic door came down in front of him. This was the fifth time it had happened. Something was watching him, and it ever so slowly led him into a trap. He would double back, but lethal gas continued to fill and creep up towards him. And plus there were Zegato’s. He had no choice but to continue along the same path again, bullets skimming behind him. Their aim was dangerously close, yet it seemed to almost always miss. He sensed that something was defiantly not right about this. Were they herding him?
He ran down turned awkwardly due to another wall coming down in front of him. He ran down his new direction and got clear just in time to get past another metal wall. Giving him only one path to take. A door seven meters ahead of him. Above the door was a sign saying, ‘Authorized personal only!’ John recognised this as a time to go against the rules and entered anyway.
The room he entered was almost pitch black. He strained his eyes to see in the dark, but to no avail. Then there was a voice. A sinister yet calm voice. One that sent a slight chill down John’s spine.
“I must congratulate you on getting this far, John. There are very few in this world that could pull off the same stunt you just did. And yet, I am unimpressed because I always knew you’d make it anyway. Or at least I hoped you would.”
“Where are you? Show yourself!”
An evil laugh echoed throughout the room. “How about I show you where you are instead.”
A quite humming noise and the room lit up to reveal the greatest shock in John’s life. The room had inside it twelve different stasis cells, each one containing a single person. But not just any ordinary person. This was John.
“What is this?” He stammered.
The figure of the Leader hovered several meters on a platform above John.
“This is you John. This is your…” he chose his words carefully. “Your ‘brothers’.”
John didn’t know what to say. “What is going on here? I don’t… I don’t…”
“Understand. Of course you don’t. How could you?”
John walked up to one of the chambers and brushed his hand across the cold glass. Then stepped back rapidly as the occupant’s eyes opened and centred on him. It’s dark cold eyes piercing into him. They reminded him of his father.
“These are your clones, John. Improved versions, like you. Made to be stronger, faster and more durable than…”
“Wait! What do you mean, ‘like me’?”
He laughed again. “Of course. I haven’t told you yet have I?” He leaned forward. “Your not the real John.” John moved back and then stopped to not get closer to the chamber. “Do you really think any person could have survived what you went through? Not even you could have survived being blown up and shot.”
John looked down at his hands as if he saw something that wasn’t there before. Like a tattoo that said what number he was.
“It took a while you know.” The Leader began to pace. “You’re the fifth, and finally successful one we cloned from your… remaining DNA.”
John looked up at him in disbelief. “You bastard. Why?”
“Why? WHY?!” He laughed even more evilly than before. “Because I felt like doing it! Because I wanted to test out our bioengineering accomplishments.” He smiled. “Because I wanted to see your reaction.”
John was both stunned and angered. The Leader had crossed the line way too much now. He’d revealed horrible truths, shattered lives, altered the opinions of others, and destroyed a world. And how much further was this demented being going to take it? He was likely one of those who went by, ‘The sky’s the limit’.
“You haven’t told me what you think yet.” John looked up at this question. “Well. I did this in your image. I put a whole lot of effort into doing it. So what do you think? It is beautiful, isn’t it?”
The Leader walked down a small ramp to the same floor as John. John glared at him, refusing to answer his question.
“It’s rude to ignore someone.”
“You really want to know what I think?” John turned to face him properly. “This is what I think.” He un-holstered his pistol and aimed it at the Leader’s head.
The Leader laughed at this. John fired but missed entirely. The bullet missing the Leader by only a few inches. He laughed even harder, holding his sides as he did. John was getting infuriated. He wanted to lash out and destroy him now, but he knew that would not work. He was slightly afraid of the Leader. Not because of his monstrous figure. That was nothing to be afraid of, as it was no more than looking at a badly scared old man with brownish green flesh. But what scared him was that this creature had as little regard for others as he would for an insect under his foot. The fact that this creature was what told him the truth, which resulted in the death of his father. The creature that found John’s lifeless body and took it, replicating it until a perfect clone was created, and having the exact same memories of his past. But most of all. The fact that John feared his failure. This creature was far more powerful than he was, and he could feel it just by standing there looking at it.
The Leader was neither short nor stocky. He levelled off at a height of 7 feet 3 inches. A dark black robe cloaking his disfigured body. His eyes were a bright blue, with red riming the pupil. His face twisted into an old mans. Yet retained the fact he was no older than 7 years old (an eerie aspect). And his hands leached out from a wrinkled arm, small, yet sharp, fingernails poking from the tips of his long web like fingers. The most disturbing aspect to accommodate all this was his voice. When John had first heard his voice, it was disfigured and demonic. But now, after years of speaking, it was harmonious. It simply wasn’t right that such a disfigured creature could have such a calm and soothing voice.
He stooped laughing and looked more serious. John lowered his gun, knowing it was useless to use. Somehow he was fast enough to dodge his bullet. Yet John knew that couldn’t have happened. No one is that fast. And by the way he walked along, he knew he couldn’t run very fast. So why did he miss? Was it fear that through him off? Or was it rage?
“I believe it is time to put Project-J through its final test.” The Leader stopped halfway up the ramp and looked at John, smiling. “Do you like the sound of that. ‘Project-J’. I named it after you of course. That’s what the ‘J’ stands for. John.”
He continued up the ramp and then turned into a small room. Through the window, John watched as the Leader fiddled with instruments in front of him. He seemed to be entering codes and typing various things. John didn’t like this. He backed, instinctively, away from the stasis cells. Him weapon aimed again, but his time at the cells. And the Johns inside, which now began to stir as the liquid inside began to drain.

Chapter 36: Lost awakening
The chambers emptied, and their occupants stumbled slightly to adjust to gravity. But they regained themselves quickly. And as the glass that kept them contained opened up, they stepped out. They had nothing on except the armour plating that covered their chest, arms and legs. Like with John. But the plating moulded over more of their body. Covering a little more. And a mask covered their mouth and nose. Leaving only their eyes, their dark hollow eyes, visible along the head. They seemed more machine than man. But through all this, John could tell these were his exact look-a-likes. From head to toe, they were John.
They blankly stared forward. Not looking at anything in particular. Not a single concern across their face. Then the Leader spoke and they stood at attention for their orders. Like the machines they appeared to be.
“John’s. Meet your…” He peered off into nowhere, thinking for the right words. “Your defective.”
They all looked at John. Examining him. John continued to aim his gun at them, waiting for the slightest movement or threat that needed the trigger pulled.
“I have no need for a defective. Remove him.”
They glared evilly at John and moved towards him. John opened fire, but each bullet skimmed off their armour. It was too strong for the low calibre gun. John backed further, but knew that soon he would be against a wall. Then there was nowhere to run. He reloaded quickly, gritting his teeth and taking aim at the nearest clone’s head. There were twelve clones. If he could remove at least one, his chances would at least improve, even if only by a fraction. He fired, this time hitting a clone in the head. Four shots, and it toppled over, dead. The other eleven took note to this, yet rather than charging; they continued their slow advance. John fire again, taking out another in four shots. The final shots from his clip, and another had fallen. Nine left. And they still advanced without a care in the world. And John’s room had run out, with his back against a wall. He needed to get around them. But they closed in from all sides.
Finally a clone threw a fast punch, which John only narrowly missed. The hit left an imprint in the wall, sending long cracks from where it landed. John rammed his body into it, using all his strength, but even though it forced back this one, it wasn’t enough to force another that stood behind it. And he was punished with an elbow to the back. He almost fell to one knee, but retained his stance, uppercutting the clone with his left, then round housing another with his right. Both lost their balance, but came back seconds later. And the other seven that hadn’t been hit, came down on him. Slamming their fist and knees into him. John coughed blood and cursed. He reloaded his gun quickly, almost dropping the clip as he was hit more. He took random shots, and then managed to plant the end on a clone, placing almost the rest of the clip into its skull. He fired at another, causing it to stumble away, enough to escape. He lunged for his new exit, but was knocked away instead. Loosing his gun. Eight left, and no weapon. His sides ached from being hit, so he clenched them to fight the pain. Even with the metal plates attached to him, their blows still got through; high impact blows that could break the bones of anyone else whom they hit. They advanced, but this time they charged. Synchronising with each other to land blows. All John could do was try to dodge and deflect. There weren’t any openings for an offence.
John’s body wasn’t the only thing that felt the pain. His mind was a fluster too. He was getting attacked so quickly that he couldn’t think up a way to fight back. He knew to win he needed to figure out a plan to gain an upper hand. But he couldn’t think of how. A blow came in and he missed blocking it. He was sent six metres flying into one of the cells. He crumpled down, but forced himself up immediately to dodge a body slam. He looked at their faces, their dark hollow eyes focusing on him. Their faces were obscured by those masks, yet John could feel them smiling. If they were his clones then they were nothing like him any way but looks. John was not like this. They acted barbarically and aggressively. Like monsters. John wasn’t a monster. They were. A memory flashed back to him, a sudden glimpse of a plan to gain advantage.
Years ago, during the war, John had fought against his father. To stop him from destroying the world. (To think that even though he had been stopped, humanity had still been put towards extinction because what he had started was already too far in effect). His father was a powerful man, capable of doing immense things. He was stronger than John. Way stronger. And if it weren’t for John losing it, he would never have beaten him. All because he became just like the clones before him. A monster. And he had to become that to win. He had to draw upon that power once more to defeat this threat. But how to do it? Last time he had done it because it knew he was in mortal danger. And that another was close to dying. And it had taken control to keep him alive and save that person. Well this situation couldn’t have been any closer. He was fighting to save himself. And if he failed to win, then many would die. And he couldn’t allow that to happen. He thought hard on this as the clones advanced some more.
“What’s the matter John? Have you given up already?”
He ignored the Leader. He thought harder on summoning his inner strength. But it wasn’t working. He knew that that part of him was there. And it should have come to his aid by now. Yet it wasn’t there! He dodged out of the way to avoid being hit, but was struck, hard, by a large metallic object. John tumbled, gasping for air as he coughed up more blood. His eyes began to fuzz up, and he felt his mind tumble back. It was happening again. The monster was taking control. Now they were in for it. Yet for some reason he didn’t get back up. Instead he lay there. Unable to move as the clones advanced again. The one wielding a massive pipe swang it again at John’s head. Bringing it down with enough force to shatter the floor underneath him. His mind went further back, slipping into nothingness

Chapter 37: The Heroin
Natalie ran down more corridors. Trying to find John. Zander, Hobson and around twenty other soldiers followed her.
“John!” Shouted Natalie. “JOHN!”
Natalie, don’t yell. There are still NER troops around that haven’t surrendered. We can’t do a rescue if we’re being ambushed.” Explained Zander.
“I don’t care!”
Natalie got further ahead of the group, the others barely able to keep up with her. Zander fell back a bit to speak with Hobson.
“I can’t get through to her.”
“She’s too caught up on finding him. We can’t change her mind.”
“I know. But if she keeps it up like this, she’ll be killed!”
“She ‘could’ be killed. We can’t say that it’s certain to happen.”
Zander stared off at her.
“I don’t care how likely it is to happen. She’s endangering herself.”
Hobson stared off after her too as she jetted around another corner. He was temporarily worried at her disappearance, but was relieved once he went around the corner and saw her again, peering and shouting inside various doors.
“JOHN! Are you in here?” She went over to another door. “John?” Another door, but this time this leaped away from it as bullets blasted through.
She rested herself against a wall, breathing hard. Zander and Hobson tried to get closer, but whoever was inside the room didn’t want anyone to come through.
“Natalie!” Shouted Hobson. “Wait there!”
But she didn’t listen. Instead she grabbed for her weapon, swung around a fired inside the room. She entered slowly, her gun ready, firing a few more times, then silence. She left the room just as Zander and Hobson reached it. And now they were closer they could see her eyes were red from crying. She torn off again down the corridor, screaming out for John again.
“This is crazy. She’s going to get herself killed!”
“John… Ahhhh!” She screamed as a large metallic machine with an alien like figure, a scorpion’s tail, and a mini-gun for one hand and buzz saw for another.
She pressed herself against the wall, staring horrifically at the machine as it raised its left arm, the saw picking up speed as it spun around. She didn’t move as it got rady to strike her. She was stunned by this image. Simply by seeing this machine, a thing of terror from her past come back to haunt her once more. Her mind was blank, even as it finished picking up speed and got ready to bring its weapon down on her. Hobson and Zander charged forward, firing off at the machine to stop it. But bullets had little effect on the monstrous thing. They tried their best to get to her in time, but they were too far away.
Going through Natalie’s mind were images of her first encounter with this creature. And how it had killed her friends, and almost killed John. And she centred on that image of John charging off towards the machine, trying to stop it from killing Francis. Then destroying it before it could get her as well. And all she did was stand there. She felt something drip onto her face. The crimson red of blood. And she reacted without thinking.
The last second before the saw came down on her, she shifted out of the way, grabbing hold of the saw arm and angling it up towards the machine itself. The machine aimed its gun at Natalie and fired, but she was too fast. Moving slightly out of the way, bringing the saw into the machines head, cutting into it. It shut off the saw, but as it did that, she grabbed the gun and pulled it off. Then snatched the tail, spinning the machine around by it, slamming it into the wall. It crumpled down into a heap, but still showed life. She ended it by crushing its head with a combination of her foot, the gun, and some rubble.
Zander and Hobson, along with all others watched in awe as this happened. Not sure what to make of it. Natalie looked at them, causing them to jump slightly from the look on her face. One of determination, anguish and rage. Then she looked off towards where the machine had come from and muttered.
“John’s this way. I know it.”
She took off, quicker than before. And by the time the others had regained themselves and come around the corner to follow her, she had disappeared.

* * *

“It really was a pity, John. I had hoped that you would be better than this. But it seems that you weren’t what I had thought you to be. I mean defeated by yourself! Or at least clones of yourself.”
He walked up to John’s lifeless body. Knelt down and examined the injuries. The plating on his chest had been damaged to the point where it had almost come off. His left arm was slit open and broken. And his right was dislocated. His head was pressed hard into the floor. His eyes hollow and slightly fogged. He laid in his own pool of blood. Leaking from the wounds in his arms and the crack in his head. And on closer inspection, tears of blood. The Leader brushed a finger across this and sniffed at it. The sent of blood was of course there. But his sense picked up the sent of salt. A sign that he had cried before his last breath. Breathing, something he couldn’t have done for at least a minute while he was alive. His lungs must have collapsed, and he bled internally.
The Leader stood up, turned to face the clones. “You did well. I was well entertained by your show. But it doesn’t end here I’m afraid. It has come to my attention that the rebels and humans have succeeded in gaining control of the citadel. They must think they’ve won.” He laughed slightly. “They couldn’t be more wrong. You, accompanied by me, will go down there and show them that victory is not to be theirs. Kill anything that is human or rebel. And while your at it, kill the NER that chose to surrender rather than fight to the end too. I want them all exterminated. Do I make myself clear?”
They all said in sync. “Yes sir.” Their voices were just like John’s. But there was a faint sense of evil among them.
At that moment the same door that John had originally come through burst open. A woman, dressed in a torn combat uniform with blood and oil stains, wielding a gun torn from a Zegato, and a Zegato’s tail that was stiff enough to be used as a spear. She stared off at them as they looked at her. Her rage visible in every aspect of her. She looked at them, slightly confused at the site of the seven John’s. She spoke.
“Who are you all? Why do you look like John.”
Then her gaze drifted to the lifeless form on the ground in front of her. She almost went into shock, but realised it to be the same as the other seven figures standing together with a humanoid. Then she noticed the only different figure to the look-a-likes. A John lay sprawled on the ground in a bloody disfigured heap.
She walked a little closer to get a better view. Then dropped the weapons she carried, her eyes wide open, her hands to her mouth.
“John?” She whispered.
She shook her head in disbelief then ran over to the body. The Leader watched as this happened. He stood only four metres from her, yet she seemed to not even notice. And if she did, she did not care. She cradled John’s lifeless body in her arms, weeping quietly. The Leader had the nerve to smile at this. And as if she had eyes in the back of her head, she spoke.
“What the hell are you smiling about?” Her voice stern and potent.
The Leader laughed. “Smiling. Why? Because I can, that’s why.”
She rested John down and slowly stood up. Her back to the Leader. And without turning, she spoke again.
“You did this.”
“And what proof do you have of that, may I ask.”
Natalie still didn’t turn. “That wasn’t a question. It was the answer.”
The Leader laughed some more and smiled evilly. “So what if I did. What’s it to you?”
“What’s it to me!” She turned to face him as she yelled. “YOU!” She stammered for the right words. “YOU… HE IS MY HUSBAND! That’s what it is to me! YOU KILLED HIM!”
Without thinking twice, she attacked. The Leader stepped back from this, her fist colliding with one of the clones. She leaped back, but immediately came into another assault. The clone manoeuvred around her attack and striked back, but missed by inches. She then slammed her fist, as hard as possible, into the clone. Indenting the armour plating to the point where it broke, allowing her fist to hit flesh. The clone stumbled a bit from this, its eyes wide as she came around, her hands around its head. CRACK! The clone’s head snapped and she released it from her grasp. Allowing it to fall to the floor with a thud. She snapped her head around to look at the other six.
“You. You killed him too!”
She came at them next. The six clones acted instinctively, moving into a combat formation to throw her off. But one of them wasn’t quick enough. Natalie grabbing at it just like the previous, knocking it off guard then snapping its neck. The final five surrounded her, then attacked like they had with John. Natalie barely had time to block and grunted as each blow landed. She wasn’t as bulky or reinforced like John was, and each hit was doing damage. Any longer and her arms would break. So she shifted around, pulled a clone to her, and used it as a shield. The blows hit the clone, causing it to yell in pain. And once the others stopped, she snapped its neck too.
The Leader watched the show before him, grinning in impressment. He was enjoying the show too much for his own good. And had to force himself to not laugh. He dodged out of the way as a dead clone tumbled past. Natalie had picked up the spear and jabbed it though the clone’s head, pulled it out, then speared another through the chest. The speared clone scrambled to take it out, but slowly began to falter until it died too. The final three seemed to be getting worried and occasionally threw a clumsy blow at her. Finally another clone was knocked back. Not dead, but it fell down and took a moment to get back up. Another was knocked away into that clone, leaving only one to fight. But Natalie had already picked up a metal pipe and started to beat up the clone, smashing in its skull. The final two scrambled away, fear in their eyes as the berserker woman approached them.
“What are you doing? Fight her.”
The clones refocused and attacked. Leaping off the wall and attacking. One clone had run over to the speared clone and taken the weapon. The other grabbed for the gun and tried to fire it. Natalie began the fight with her pipe, and the clone with the spear. Each accurately trading blows off their weapons until Natalie was thrown off balance from gunfire. She was knocked away and skidded across the floor. Stopping once she hit a stasis cell. She rolled out of the way to avoid more gunfire, came around, grabbed the clone with the spear and threw in into the trail of gunfire. The gun must have been locked since the clone wielding it had to aim up to stop shooting it, a clumsy mistake as this lead to shooting the other clone in the head. Natalie ran up to it, grabbed the gun, angled it up, and blasted away the clone. Leaving it almost headless.
The Leader watched in awe and excitement. She had single-handedly taken down seven clones. Perhaps she was stronger than John was? Or perhaps there was something else far stronger than any weapon that drove her. Either way, it made the Leader clap and applaud her.
“Excellent! Brilliant! Magnificent!”
Natalie faced the Leader. Dropped the gun. And charged him.
“You should be rewarded for that splendid show.”
He moved slightly to avid a blow then lifted an arm to block an attack. Then standing sideways to her, blocked every other attack without looking, and continued to praise her at the same time.
“I am truly astounded. Baffled even! I can’t believe you managed to beat them all. I mean, not even your husband could do that.”
Natalie attacked even harder than before at the mention of her husband.
“Don’t get me wrong. He put up a great fight. But it seems that twelve clone versions of him are just too much.”
Natalie was wearing out from attacking. She wasn’t used to fighting this hard and it placed an immense amount of strain on her.
“He only managed to take out five of them before he was finished. But I must say that he still put a very good show on too. Not quite what I’d expect from him though. I at least hoped he’d beat eight of them. Or better. I’d be able to fight him.”
Natalie continued to fight, but couldn’t get around his defences. He was quick, strong and powerful. And even though he wore no armour, just a cloth garment, he took ever blow without even the slightest sign of pain.
“Its actually rather sad. That the clones are dead I mean. I was planning on taking them for a test run before you killed them. Pity. And I really wanted to finish that traitor Zander too. And then Sergeant Hobson. Oh, and your elite squad. I’m sure there are still plenty of them about. And then I wanted to take one of your dropships back to Orion and test them there. Yes, that would have been a delightful excursion.”
Natalie wandered slightly on the thought of how he knew so much. The Leader sensed this and striked. A single blow with his fist sending her flying into the wall. Cracking it.
“I’m rather angry that you ruined my fun. So I guess you need to be paid back for that.”
He walked up to her. Natalie unable to get back up. She was winded and stunned. The Leader picked up the pipe and prepared to hit her. And before he did, a fist collided with the back of the Leaders head. He turned quickly to face John. Standing there, ready to fight. He rubbed some blood off his chin and snarled.
“Keep your hands off her.”
The Leader grinned widely and readied to fight the reawakened John.

Chapter 38: A final fate
“You continue to astound me with your efforts. I could have sworn you were dead.” Taunted the Leader, cheerfully.
John didn’t speak a word, but stood there, watching. The Leader observed him closer. There was something foully amiss about him. His eyes were still fogged up, a feature distinct of that from a corpse. His head still had the crack in, but didn’t bleed anymore, and actually seemed to have healed slightly. His left arm had healed its cuts, leaving not even a scar from where they’d been. And more remarkable, the bones weren’t broken. His right arm was no longer dislocated, and his breathing was normal as if his lungs had reinflated themselves. Though his breathing was still a little heavy. But also, the chest plating had been removed. Something that should have left him dead even more since when the parts that were attached were linked up to his central nervous system. He didn’t seem to be aware of what was happening around him, like he was unconscious.
“You really are a wonder, aren’t you? Your unconscious, badly wounded and damaged, possibly have lost too much blood to live. And yet here you are, standing bef…” SMACK!
The Leader stumbled back as his attempt to block one of John’s blows failed and he was struck across the face. He stepped back enough to avoid being kicked, but failed to block the second spinning kick. He was then elbowed onto his knees from a hit to the back. He coughed slightly, but recovered instantly by leaping away on all fours, then he came around quickly, hitting John square in the gut. The blow caused John to crumple as the Leader continued to press his fist harder, trying to damage the organs inside. But John barely even felt the pain. Grabbing the Leaders arm and twisting it to the breaking point, pulling him around, then brining his other arm down on it. Breaking it. The Leader yelled and stumbled back. John stood up straight and faced him. The same blank expression on his face.
At that moment, Natalie had recovered from her daze and was aware at what was happening. She looked over at the angry Leader then stared off towards John. At first she didn’t believe it. Rubbing her eyes and shaking her head. But the image of John standing there didn’t leave.
“John?”
He didn’t take notice of her recovering and charged the Leader fast and powerfully enough to slam him across the room before he could defend. Natalie forced herself to stand, bracing herself against the wall.
“John?”
But he still didn’t notice. Her voice was too low, and she was too weakened to make it go higher. So she tried to get to him instead. But failed to walk and fell to her knees. She got halfway to him, his back to her, facing the Leader who was trying to stand. The Leader coughed up blood and rubbed it off his face with one hand. He examined the blood.
“Amazing. Many times I have seen blood. Yet this is the first time I have ever seen my own.” He stood up and faced John. “I’ll have to make you bleed now.”
He charged John, but he moved out of the way and grabbed the Leader from behind, wrapping his arms around him and squeezing. The Leader swore and screamed in pain as his bones began to break. John didn’t stop until the Leader let out one more gasp for air and ceased all life. John dropped him onto the floor and picked up a piece of pipe from the ground. The Leader moved slightly. Then rolled over, clenching his teeth to fight off the pain of having most his bones broken. He smiled up at John as he lifted the pipe high above him.
“At least if I am to die here, it is by your hand.”
John brought the pipe down as hard as possibly. Shattering the flooring around the Leaders crushed head. John stumbled backwards and fell to one knee. Natalie continued to try and reach him. John looked down at the floor and coughed up some blood. He then gave way to gravity and fell. Natalie reached him just in time to catch his fall, and cradled him silently in her arms. John’s eyes were closed, all signs of what life he had no longer there. His body unable to sustain life anymore.

* * *

Zander sprinted down the corridor, then slid to a halt when Hobson called back to him.
“Quick, we’ll try for in here.”
He run back to him just as he opened the door and entered. He stopped just inside the doorway, dropped his gun, stunned. Zander squeezed past and halted,unable to move either. They looked at Natalie sitting in the middle of a bloodied and corpse ridden room. She was cradling John in her arms, asleep.
“I guess we were too late.” Said Hobson.
Zander looked back at some soldiers that were following, then back at Natalie.
“We better go get her. She can’t… shouldn’t stay here.”
“I agree.” He looked off sympathetically at her. “It may be hard to get her to let go though.”

Epilogue
It was starting to rain over the cemetery near the newly constructed town. The town had been started one year ago, just south of the Amazon. It was the first new town built after the war had ended. The cemetery, which held the graves of hundreds of dead people and humanoids that had fought in the final battle, lay there. It is one year since that battle. The first anniversary for that day, ‘Honouring Day’. Many came to this place to see the graves of their family and friends that had died on that day. But for five of them, they were here to see but one.
Natalie, her daughter Nicky, Yuan Hobson (he had retired shortly after the war), Zander and his wife Gina. They came to see the grave of the one man who had taken every step to end the war on Earth, and had succeeded, but at the cost of his life.
Johnson Cross. A man who lived out a tough life, but overcame everything thrown in front of him. He survived the impossible and even when greatly wounded, physically and emotionally, he came back fighting. Reuniting humanity and doing everything possible to protect it after that. Then he had stood against a powerful threat, and a creature more demented and evil than the devil, and stopped the war as well then united both in peace.
They took it in turns to say their own little words, and when it came to Natalie’s turn, she stood there. She looked up at the sky for a moment, then back at the grave and smiled.
“There is nothing more to say.” She said sincerely.
She then knelt down near the grave and brushed one hand over the tombstone. She then whispered silently.
“Thankyou.”
They left shortly after. Walking the long path through the sea of graves and the hundreds that gathered to pay respects to those that died.
Upon John’s tombstone was written.
“In this world of war, there are those that will fight for what they believe in, and become hero’s. But only those that fight for what they believe in, even should they die, become the true hero’s.”

* * *

Back at the citadel, (most of the place, including the name was kept the same for historical significance), a man stood up on top of the highest point of the entire structure. He looked down upon the city below, watching the many citizens, human and humanoid alike, going about their everyday life.
The wind picked up a bit more so he gripped the railing a little harder to stop himself being blown back. He relaxed more after it had stopped. He turned slightly to see a woman emerge from the trap door, shifting some hair out of her eyes as the wind whipped it away.
“Are you coming down? Dinners ready.”
The man looked back out at the horizon before turning around fully.
“I’ll be there in a second.”
She slipped back down the trap door without saying another word, leaving the door slightly ajar for him. There was something different about her ever since that fight against the Leader. The most noticeable was, possibly, the fact that she had changed her attitude about him. Maybe since she’d found out that her real husband had died long ago, and that he was no more than a clone.
He gave another quick glance out, this time towards the direction of the cemetery. Out there, somewhere at that place, was an empty grave with John’s name on it. Why was it empty? Because the real John was long gone. Dead years ago back when Harmonia fell. It wasn’t his grave to be. He was simply a replication of that man and what he once was.
The trapdoor fluttered a bit and banged on the floor. So he walked over to it, opened it properly, and then looked down into the dark winding staircase below, wondering, where would things go from here? There was much to do now that peace had been restored. The whole world had changed over the years since the mutant outbreak. But now things had levelled out, and mutation risks were no longer a threat. Humanity could rebuild in safety and turn the world back into the beautiful place it once was. But there was a long way to go.
The wind picked up again so he passed off the remaining thoughts and climbed through the trap door. Slowly closing it as he left. Taking his new goals with him as he did.
¬¬¬¬END
¬¬

_______

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