The Armageddon Equation Chapter 5
The words resonated within his eardrums. He didnt feel like himself right now. He felt somehow disconnected from his body and mind.
I found you on the beach when my boyfriend disappeared.
Who was talking to him? To whom did these words belong to?
It was the strangest thing, too... He just vanished into the air, and then you fell down by my feet...
Things felt most definitely unusual for the middle aged man. He wondered briefly if this was some sort of hallucination. After having a quick debate with himself, he shrugged the notion off, realizing that he was too fatigued to care at this point.
Do you know where he is? The same voice asked in a melancholy undertone.
The figure disabled in the bed gradually managed to pry his eyes open, and observe the surroundings through his clouded vision. The voice talking to him sounded undoubtedly sweet, and the room appeared pleasant enough, but something didnt seem right. It would take him more than a few moments to recall the events that had led to his sudden loss of consciousness. Before he had the necessary time to gather these thoughts, however, his eyes focused on the features of a young woman, possibly in her mid to late teens, staring him curiously in the face.
And in a moment, he realized who the face belonged to.
The stranger instantaneously regained his sharp-as-a-tack senses, and threw the bed sheets to the floor while jumping to his feet, all in a single motion. He needed take no more than a half step before he clutched the girls neck in his powerful hands, choking off her air supply, and throwing his shoulder up against her mouth to prevent any sort of scream from escaping from the orifice. Indeed, the young lady attempted to squeal, but no noise came out.
Leena! The suddenly aggressive man shouted into the frightened teens ears. What trickery are you trying to pull off!? Squeezing her fragile neck a little harder, he muttered, Witch! What are you doing here!?
The grip upon Leenas throat loosened temporarily, to allow her to answer the question. When nothing besides frightened sobs escaped her throat, Leena was roughly thrown up against the wall by her assailant. Speak!!!
Then, as suddenly as the entire incident had begun, The large, powerful man dropped the girl onto the floor. It worked he sputtered under his breath. Steenas plan actually worked
Leena, now cowering in terror with her back still pressed against the wall, would have burst out in panicked tears, had it not been for the absolute fear she trembled with at this moment. What What do you want? There was a noticeable quiver in her voice.
The stranger looked over to the terrified teenager sprawled against the corner of the room. She probably doesnt have a damn clue what Im talking about, he thought. Would it be possibly for Leena to be innocent in this strange reality? Walking over slowly and sternly towards the young woman, and noticing her attempt futilely to make herself disappear into thin air, the man prepared to make an apology. You are Leena, correct?
The girl nodded, although barely perceptibly. How do you know who I am?
Youre Boyfriend You mentioned him earlier. Would his name happen to be Serge?
Leenas eyes grew wide as she gasped in astonishment. Who are you!?
This may be a little difficult for you to understand, the stranger began. But I was exchanged into this world for your boyfriend. I am here in his place, because he now exists in my world. He was called over because he is quite possibly the only one who can save my home.
The man could tell that Leena, still nearly wetting herself from the sudden shock of being assaulted, wasnt absorbing the information. So, in a gesture of friendship, he extended his hand to her, offering her help in returning to her feet. My name is Guile. You must forgive me for my unfavorable conduct just now. You see, in my world, you are the epitome of evil, a great tyrant and my mortal enemy. I am sure youre rather confused right now, and understandably so. If youll be willing to forgive me for my mistake, then Ill explain everything to you. Seeing that Leena still didnt seem trusting of him, Guile flashed her a friendly smile, and said, Right now, Im the only one who can help you find your boyfriend. But Im going to need you to help me, first.
The dark caverns surrounding the area behind the Divine Dragon Falls were vastly unexplored, save for a few adventurers. So, to Serge, the cave seemed more like a maze than a secret base for a resistance movement. As he was led through a half dozen passages by Radius, unsure of his general direction, the surreal environment and scarcely detectable lights from torches in the distance made him feel somewhat uneasy. Eventually, after a trek of what must have been no more than five minutes, but felt like an hour because of the generally unsettling atmosphere hanging in the caverns like a morning fog, Serge watched Radius pull down a torch on the wall, and a door slid open. Inside, he could see a well lit chamber with an elegant glass chandelier hanging above a mahogany table and about a half dozen chairs. Two of the seats were occupied by Karsh and Zoah, while the others remained empty.
Feels like an empty room without Steena sitting here Radius muttered as he dignifiedly strolled into the room and took one of the chairs. Come, Serge. Sit down. He obeyed the older man.
Karsh, sitting directly across from Serge, nearly smiled at the nervousness of their newest guest. Welcome, Serge from the other world. This is the Resistances war room. The people sitting in this room are what currently remain of the Brain Trust. In short, we are the intelligence behind the Resistance.
It is a bit of an odd meeting, without Steena and Guile, Zoah commented, almost mimicking what Radius had said no more than a minute earlier.
Serge appeared puzzled. Guile is a part of the Resistance?
Radius nodded. Did Steena ever tell you that as a necessary measure of pulling you into our world, we were forced to make an exchange?
Yeah, she mentioned a little bit about it.
Well, Guile was the one who volunteered to be exchanged, the former Dragoon explained. He never really told us why he wanted to cross over so badly. Said he had his reasons Of course, in order to get him down to the Opassa Naval Pier safely, we needed to perform a major operative strike against some of the checkpoints manned by Porre military personnel. In the course of the mission, however, our Serge was cut off from the main group, and thats when the forces stationed around Arni shot him down and killed him.
So we thought Zoah morbidly reminded him. Now, hes mad at the whole group of us for leaving him to die, and hes already exacted his revenge on Steena.
And what did you call me here to your war meeting for? Serge curiously asked.
Karsh took that question. We need your, other world point of view, so to speak, for the planning and execution of the next strike on Porre. Also, with such drastic changes taking place recently to our core personnel, we need to take a look at the direction we wish to take our network.
I see Serge trailed off. Do you want my honest opinion of where I think you guys stand, at least based off my limited knowledge on this world so far?
Shoot, Karsh instructed.
Serge took his time choosing the right words, being sure to speak in terms that his newfound allies would be able to decipher. Lets, for a moment, theoretically compare the Nation of Porre, along with its colonies based here in El Nido, and I presume elsewhere, to a mighty hydra. Not just any hydra, mind you, but a giant, hungry, pissed off at the world for killing her babies type hydra. What you guys are trying to do is bring this monstrosity of a beast down by stabbing it with needles. Valiant effort on your part, yes, but I dont think that youre anything more than an annoyance that occasionally comes out of hiding and guns down a few of its marines.
So what youre saying is that we need to be more aggressive? Radius searched for clarification.
In response, Serge shook his head. No, its not about aggressiveness. Its about magnitude. What the Resistance aspires to be is an actual uprising, a major rebellion of sorts. What the Resistance really is, is a pesky rogue terrorist group to the Porre Nation. A fly that it desperately wants to swat, but nothing more. Were not really disrupting Porre as a whole in any way.
Okay, Karsh acknowledged, that may be a bit of an assault on our pride, but its a fair assessment. The problem is, how the hell do you suggest we deal a decisive blow to Porre, with what little manpower we have? Theres not much we could do that would actually turn the heads of the administrative bureaucratic assholes running things up in Porre City. They think were a Colony problem.
The issue is indeed manpower, Serge boldly declared. I have a feeling were not the only ones angry with Porre. We have to advertise our ranks, get our angry message across to the people, and look for a few potential allies. Once we get some muscle behind us, we figure out a way to attack the heart of Porre, up on the Zenan Continent.
Easier said than done. No ship, big or small, could even reach the boundary waters of El Nido before being blown to the bottom of the sea by the Navys frigates, Zoah warned sternly. But I suppose thats something well have to worry about later.
Agreed, Radius proclaimed. First, we have to decide where we should move our base to, now that Divine Dragon Falls is no longer considered black.
Huh? What do you mean by black? Why do we have to move the base? Serge inquired, obviously unsure of why they were discussing such matters.
Karsh looked at Serge as if he had some kind of foreign object protruding from his forehead. How thick are you, kid? Serge The old Serge, that is, has completely defected from our operation. What if he turns himself into Porre, rats out the location of our secret base to the enemy, and they decide to take us out? And believe me, Leena would like for nothing more than to blast us back to the stone age. Theyll either storm the place with special forces, five hundred strong, or theyll put a fighter jet in the stratosphere and satellite-guide a Dragon Missile, no doubt armed with a photon-based nuclear warhead, directly up our poopshoot.
So these photon weapons are bad things? Serge inferred.
Theyre what made the world look like what it is today, Radius replied. Ugly, dead, and hopeless. After a brief pause, he turned back to Karsh. Have you assessed any possible new base locations?
Well, Zoah began, taking over. The navyll shell us to the ends of the earth if we leave the island, and we dont have a big enough boat, anyway. Viper Manor is now a space-age military outpost and research center for the El Nido Colony, and is completely under Leenas control. Termina, as we all know, was hit by a photon bomb in the earliest stages of invasion, and its now a ghost town full of rubble and mutants and outlaws. Fort Dragonia, likewise, was bombed to a crater. The Hyrda Marshes are a hotbed of radiation poisoning waiting to happen. Cape howl is the site of a surface-to-air missile field, and a couple legions of tanks. Fossil Valley is a major transport route for the army. That leaves, by my best estimates, the Shadow Forest. I doubt Porre would have ever bothered looking in that god-forsaken bog of suicide. Theres nothing useful there.
Anyone see any problems with the Shadow Forest? Radius asked. It was actually the option I was leaning towards before I listened to Zoahs briefing.
Serge remained silent, not knowing enough about the situation to really have an opinion. Karsh nodded in agreement. Shadow Forest it is. Prepare our men, because the sooner we get out of here, the safer well be.
Wait, wait Serge interrupted. Tell me what was wrong with Termina again.
Well, Radius explained, Theres nothing left of the city itself besides a pile of crumbled buildings, and the people there are all fugitives.
If theyre fugitives, then what does that make us? Serge demanded. Sounds to me like theyre our type of people. Maybe a little below our usual standards, but potential allies nonetheless. I think we should at least stop in there before heading to the Shadow Forest, even if we dont stay.
Interesting stance you have there, Boy! Karsh declared. But I do think it might be worthwhile to check out.
Zoah pounded his fist onto the table hard enough that it should have, by all logic, left a dent of some sort. Agreed. Well look into it. Now, to come up with a plan for getting through Fossil Valley undetected
South El Nido Sea
10km SSE of Fort Arni
Arg! Blow me arse, mateys! Thars the base!
Captain Fargo, S.S. Invincible is bearing 252 at a current depth of 64 meters!
Aye-aye, First Mate Nikki! Down periscope!
Captain, request permission to take a look for myself before the periscope has been lowered, Sir!
Permission granted, Sailor.
Nikki smirked. So what if the only reason he was this high on the chain of command on the old nuclear powered submarine was because his father happened to be the captain, and not because of his navigation or leadership skills? At the end of the day, he was still first mate, not a bad title at all. While the circumstances surrounding this move always drew behind-the-back criticism from the peons aboard the sub, the fact of the matter was that Nikki acted as their superior, and his commands were to be followed. Not that he ever made that many decisions to begin with; he more often then not happened to pass along orders issued by his father. With all this, Nikki found himself in a pleasant position. He was a military officer on board a rogue submarine stolen from the Porre military over ten years ago during the early stages of the incursion into El Nido, and with Fargo at the helm, there was nothing he could do outside of becoming a traitor or an extreme foul-up that could remove him from his title.
Nikki brushed passed his father and peered anxiously into the periscope. His vision reflected to a circular, narrow viewpoint slightly above the surface of the sea, and obstructed in parts by a dark, thin crosshair. Indeed, Fort Arnis high, boding gun turrets and defense towers stood out from the darkened skies with utmost clarity. There was no mistaking it.
That bastard Norris thought this boat sank ten years ago due to a navigation problem in the El Nido Triangle. Wont he be surprised when he finds out where these missiles come from? Captain Fargo slyly observed, very much pleased with his efforts. Two lethal strikes dead into the heart of the center of operations of Porres El Nido Division. Ive waited so long for this moment
Captain! Fargo immediately turned around to see whom the voice belonged to. The corners of his mouth raised when he did.
Admiral, Im pleased to see ya, he said. Tell me, Irenes, how did the scouting report go? All is well?
The mermaids hair was still soaked from the water. Ja. Youd be surprised how calm de ocean is. Schwimming in through de torpedo tubes is still quite unpleasant, however.
Aye, good, good, the captain demonstrated his tremendous delight in an almost non caring manner. Turning quickly to his son, he asked, Nikki, is the sonar clear?
Clear as a bell, Capn! I must inform you, however, that the sea only has a depth of about 78 meters in this area, the first mate declared. That means were only sitting about 14 meters off the bottom. We wont be able to hide when they send the warships out from Opassa. Well be buried alive by depth charges.
Arg! Thats why it was never my intention to sit round the bottom and wait for em to scare us outta the water. After launch, well change course to 162, and throw the turbines in full force. The land lubbersll hear us snoopin on the seabed, without question, but we should be able to get a good jump on em. Well take our chances hidin once we git into deeper waters.
Captain, Irenes interjected, abruptly breaking Fargos rush of strategy with her thick accent. If we travel at thirty knots under de water, de warships in de area will surely be able to hear us und track our movements.
Fargo grumbled under his breath while pulling out a cigarette from a pack within his seamans jacket and planted it between his lips. It was a telltale sign that underneath his composed leadership, a fair amount of nervousness and uncertainty had begun to set in. In the midst of lighting the dark tobacco, something that wasnt exactly considered policy on board a submarine, Fargo cleared his throat, I said Id take my chances. My first goal is going to be gettin me the hell outta the hot zone.
Sir, Ive received confirmation on the attack coordinates from the ops room, First Mate Nikki reported. Then, in a subtle but noticeable change of persona from junior officer to Fargos son, he boldly stated, Lets do this thing.
The captain didnt seem nearly as enthused. I suppose Im gonna have to give some kinda speech to the crew Walking over to a control panel stationed against the wall, he picked up an intercom. Ahoy, mateys! This is yer captain speaking! By this stage in the mission, yall should know what yer here for! We will be launching a small but powerful assault on the center of Porres military operations in El Nido. Two warheads shall be fired directly in the center of the command district. Although the strike will be directed at army personnel, a number of civilian innocents will lose their lives. Make no mistake, mateys! Thar be no turnin back after this. Well be branded as public enemy number one in Porre. Well be targets for the rest of our lives. This is the stage where yer captain is required to create some sort of inspirational speech, or say some infamous words that will go down in history. Im afraid Im not the kind of pirate that comes up with these sorts of things. Im no damned good at it. So, since well be unintentionally murdering a fleet of civilians, I cannot possibly stand here with a completely positive outlook. With that said, I now leave you with the most fitting words that I could think of for our current situation After a brief pause and sigh, he clutched the intercom tighter than before. General Leena, I shall gladly greet you when I arrive in the fiery depths of Hell. Watching your suffering shall make my anguish all the less miserable.
Fargo slammed the intercom into the wall, cursing under his breath for some unknown reason, possibly because he was hesitant about what he was about to carry out. No sooner than the intercom had been snapped back into its socket, Nikki immediately grabbed hold of it. Crew, load the missiles into the torpedo tubes.
A half minute later, a crewmans voice crackled over the speaker in the room. Sir, Torpedoes 1 and 2 have been successfully loaded. Standing by for further orders.
Captain Fargo, quickly dispelling thoughts of uncertainty from his mind, walked over and snatched the intercom from his first mate. Mateys, fire the Seadog 1 on my orders! He screamed, bellowing loud enough that a surface ship in the area might have picked up his voice on the sonar. Silence ensued the command. Finally, the captain of the S.S. Invincible held the transmitter close to his mouth and roared, FIRE!!!
The entire submarine shook from the force of the torpedo being forcibly ejected from its holding case, and the sound of the water being cast aside from the great weapon echoed throughout the navigation room. A long stream of bubbles trailed tightly behind the torpedo as it sped upwards toward the surface of the dark El Nido Sea.
Fargo waited until the noise of the launch had died down slightly. Mateys, arm the Seadog 2, and fire on my word!
The Seadog 1 broke through the surface of the water almost simultaneously with those words, 64 meters above the S.S. Invincible. Breaking out from underneath the waves, the torpedo leapt out of the ocean like a spawning salmon, fluttering in the air for a few brief moments. A computerized chip inside the weapon sent a signal to the various circuit boards inside the projectile, and almost instantaneously, two metallic, hollow half-cylinder pieces of machinery dropped off from the outside of the Seadog 1, whilst the propeller fell off the backside of the torpedo. In effect, the casing around the weapon, fell off, transforming it from a torpedo to a missile while it floated in the middle of the air. Now that it no longer needed to travel through the water, the torpedo components of it were dropped, and the shedding metal skin gave way to the liquid-fuel based rocket hiding on the inside. This technology of morphing from torpedo to missile allowed a long-range guided missile to be fired from under the water, so the submarine never had to surface to attack a land-based target.
A quick electrical spark gave ignition to the liquid rocket fuel, and soon the missile had enough thrust underneath it to overthrow the reigns of gravity. Within seconds, the Seadog 1 was pushing its way high into the atmosphere, searching for its target far below. At the range it was from the target, and the velocity at which the projectile traveled, the missile would strike Arni within the next seventy seconds. The guidance system wouldnt have much time to correct errors.
Admiral Wazuki! the young, just out of boot camp radar operator shouted. A man decorated with a high-ranking Porre uniform, littered with various medals and stripes, stepped over to observe the young greenhorn.
What is it, Private? he asked, taking a look out at the clouded, forbidding skies on the other side of the window. The aircraft carrier underneath him quietly rolled across the violent white caps of the sea.
Admiral, Sir, I just picked up something weird on the radar. It looked like a big bird, but it seemed to be moving incredibly fast. It was just there for a couple of sweeps, then it disappeared Im not sure what to make of it.
Admiral Wazuki thought about the situation briefly. Its probably nothing, a glitch in the system or something. Let me know if you see something like it again.
Yessir! came the uniform reply.
FIRE!!! Fargo howled into the intercom. The second torpedo tube expelled the Seadog 2 shortly thereafter, and with this action came the now familiar shuddering of the submarine. The noise subsided quickly, and the captain again screamed into to his crew. Change course 162, full forward thrust! Be prepared to dive slightly deeper when the water depth increases! Immediately, the great submarine began moving.
All this while, the second torpedo breached the surface of the water, dropping its outer shell the same way its predecessor had, and becoming a surface-to-surface missile. And, following almost the same path as its counterpart, Seadog 2 blasted high into the air in search of its target, a nearly invisible flame burning behind it, torching the skies with enough heat to make the air shimmer. Behind the flame, a long, whitish tail of smoke streaked in contrast to grayish clouds overhead. It would arrive at its target no more than twenty seconds after the first missile struck.
Sir, its back! the young recruit yelled from the radar screen. Admiral Wazuki barely had time to turn around before this shout had been issued, and this time, he watched the greenish blip on the radar race across the length of the innermost circle with a great speed. Then, just as the private had reported to him only moments earlier, the blip on the screen disappeared.
What the hell? the admiral quietly muttered underneath his breath.
He didnt have much time to contemplate the situation. A young naval officer bolted into the command center of the warship and, in an almost panicked voice, shouted, Admiral Wazuki! I just saw something white streaking across the sky! I have no idea what it was. If you look out the starboard window, you may still be able to see it.
After that, Wazuki needed no further information. He now knew exactly what the strange blips on the radar screen were: High altitude missiles. The white tail left by a rocket was unmistakable, especially by someone who had seen so many in his life, and the description by the young naval officer matched identically. The conclusion came in congruence with what had happened on the radar, and the admiral cursed himself for not recognizing it earlier. He blamed the flaw on the fact that it had been five, maybe seven years since he had actually seen this type of thing. In this part of the world, the Porre military didnt test its rockets anymore, because it didnt need to, and in El Nido, they werent really fighting a naval war anymore. Everything was done with air-to-surface strikes from fighter planes now.
I dont recall there being any missile tests scheduled, the admiral muttered. Strange. Ill have to see who authorized this and didnt bother to tell me Then, speaking in a louder voice so that someone besides himself could hear, he said, Get General Norris on the line. Tell him Ive got a little bone to pick with him.
The first missile was nearly directly over Fort Arni now, traveling downward at an eighty degree angle. In short, it was plummeting fast, straight into the middle of the command center of the military outpost. Not far behind, her sister rocket was changing trajectory, evening out the tail and the warhead so that the projectile was parallel with the earth, before it finally began descending toward a munitions plant inside the base.
The military command center in Fort Arni being targeted by the missile, one of several throughout the outpost, sat inside a three story, two basement building, which rested right in the middle of a populated downtown sector that included entertainment centers, commercialized businesses, and residential apartments for soldiers. Hence, the building had been built on a plot of land taking up no more than six acres. There was nothing distinct or unusual about the structure, and any passer-by wouldnt think it was anything more than another office or some public housing. A thick concrete layer surrounded the steel beams of the building, and dark, reflective windows littered the exterior, making it look the same as every other structure in the area. Inside, however, were chambers and offices filled with computers, top secret papers, and high ranking personnel at all hours, the brains behind much of what happened with the El Nido Armed Forces.
The Seadog 1 crashed into the roof of the compound from directly above, at speeds just shy of three times the sound barrier. The missile ruptured the concrete roof, broke through the ceiling, and penetrated into the top floor of the building. The tip of the warhead smashed through the floor of an office, a desk residing not far to the right of where it hit, and the displaced air from the rocket sent every piece of paper on the furniture flying in all directions. Then, the great explosive weapon punctured the carpet and floorboards, digging downward into the second story, and leaving a gaping hole in the structure it had sliced through.
Less than a hundredth of a second after the missile hat first smashed into the roof of the command building, it shot into the ground floor, bounced off a wall and crashed into some hapless guard, dead from the velocity of the object before he even knew what hit him. Then, the bomb inside the Seadog one exploded.
With the detonation taking place on the ground level, the second and third floors of the building were lifted upwards into the sky by the rush of air resultant of the blast. A brilliant orange inferno burst out from underneath, the heat of the flames so hot that it melted the glass in the immediate area. The shattered concrete and twisted steel framework from the higher levels of the structure were lifted by the explosion to the height of a guard tower, perhaps as much as fifty feet.
The first floor had been absolutely obliterated, and nothing larger than a wristwatch would have remained intact. The flying debris became bullets of rubble and concrete shrapnel, bursting into the surrounding buildings with such force that they burrowed directly through the framework, damaging all nearby structures to the point where they would eventually have to be torn down and rebuilt from the ground up. The glorious orange blaze expanded outwards until fire was racing up the sides of the adjacent high rises.
Casualties inside the now nonexistent command center were one hundred percent. Anyone working in the first basement became immediately consumed by the fire, or blasted into a million tiny chunk of burnt flesh. Anyone inside the more heavily reinforced second basement got buried by thousands of tons of debris, and within five seconds of the initial explosion, the second and third floor came crashing back down to earth, some on top of other buildings, but most directly on top of the former command center. The rocks that fell on top of other buildings collapsed parts of roofs, or, on at least a couple of incidents, cleaved out the wall from the side facing where the bomb had struck.
Any window within a city block of the missile attack instantly shattered from the ever expanding shockwave. Casualty rates were high from the amount of airborne glass shards. General Leena had nearly been one of them, walking past her bathroom mirror just moments before the explosion took place. The reverberations in the ground knocked her off her feet, and she landed hard on her arm, tearing a muscle in the shoulder. As the fiery pain shot up and down her arm, she screamed with confusion and anger, What the fuck was that!?
On the aircraft carrier patrolling the coast outside the Opassa naval yard, Admiral Wazuki heard a strange, inhuman rumbling echoing throughout the distance. He wasted no time getting to the deck so he could look in the direction of the low thunder. What he saw astounded him. A hellish black cloud seemed to reach out from the sky and collapse on a small section of the base. Underneath the shroud, a very slight, but noticeable glow flickered in the city. Based on the distance the carrier had been from Arni, and the speed of sound, it had taken the howl of the explosion somewhere between twelve and sixteen seconds to reach him. Now, a downtown district of the military outpost had been destroyed.
Wazuki peered over the railing on the warship, almost falling into the murky waters as he squinted, looking hard in to the distance. There was something else odd about the situation, but he couldnt put his finger on it. He blinked quickly and tried again. Yes, there it was! There was a faint trail of smoke moving along the air, headed straight for a second section of the fort! Which meant
Oh my God the admiral gasped in disbelief. No sooner than he had said this, a brilliant, half spherical flash spread out from the middle of Fort Arni. Swirls of glowing clouds lit the up the sky, and flames the size of buildings broke out in the general vicinity of the explosion. Admiral Wazuki turned his head down and muttered a silent prayer, then hastily darted off to get on the phone to General Norris. He was inside the communications room just in time to miss the ungodly rush of warm air pushing the foggy seawater against the normal direction of the ocean current. Wazuki picked up the receiver and dialed into the city. The line was dead. Dear God he exclaimed with enough volume so the men in the room, though he was only speaking to himself. Fort Arni just got hit with a goddamn missile! Oh, Jesus! Oh God! Were under attack!
With everyone in Arni watching the fading yellow glow in the air from the first explosion and the echoes from it remaining very loud throughout the city, few people had seen the second missile streak across the sky, screaming loudly in a high-pitched, earsplitting war cry as it plummeted towards a munitions plant, the white trail of smoke extending behind it into the heavens above. The Seadog 2 could not have dropped into a more perfect spot, ripping straight through a window, and dropping into a storage room full of a surplus of bombs.
The initial explosion was similar in size to the first blast, but didnt rip the building to shreds because the weapons factory was much bigger in size than the command outpost. Soon, however, a secondary detonation occurred. Then a tertiary. One by one, every bomb, warhead, and sack of gunpowder in the compound became engulfed by the multiple blasts. Eventually, the entire weapons depot, along with the uninhabited, flat property that surrounded the plant in all directions so an accident wouldnt damage any nearby buildings, was lost in a massive fireworks display. The wreckage stretched across fifty acres of property, strewn haphazardly in all directions, still burning from the heat. A black cloud of smoke blended in perfectly with the permanent dark clouds of El Nidos post-apocalyptic world, making it nearly impossible to see the deep, concave crater denoting the tombstones of the men working in the factory at the time the explosion took place. Surrounding the giant hole in the ground for some distance, the undying firestorm blackened the once smooth, unblemished pavement.
The facility hit by the second missile had been in a remote enough location that for the most part, debris had not damaged the surrounding buildings, and the shockwave had not been big enough to blow apart windows or even knock bystanders off their feet. Some of the explosions inside the compound, however, caught on fire in such a way that they were shot in completely random directions like secondary rockets, firing chaotically for short distances into some distant corner of the city. Blazing yellow streaks whistled raucously as they spiraled across the sky in a series of smoldering stripes. One of these makeshift missiles would strike a building or lonely street corner, and light it up with a large, fiery flash followed by a deafening bang that resonated in the air for minutes. Anyone unfortunate enough to be within the vicinity of these projectiles would receive severe burns from head to toe.
After two successive explosions, and the carnage raining on the city because of the chaos happening at the munitions plant, the entire base collectively held its breath in hopes that no more attacks would come. Everything was in disarray as the leaders of the military installation tried to make some sort of rhyme or reason out of the bedlam. All over the city, while the civilians holed themselves up in shelters, the political leadership scrambled into the streets, trying to contact whoever they could and look for a meeting place where they could discuss the events and what could be done about them. Until that happened, though, panic surrounded their minds and plagued their every thought.
Glenn and Kid were out of breath by the time they reached Riddel and Orlha, who were currently stuck with guard duty outside the mouth of the cave in Divine Dragon Falls. Dirt flew off their shoes with every running step they took towards the two young women, both aged beyond their years from the turmoil they had seen in this ruined world.
Oy! Kid shouted between gasps, barely able to contain her excitement. Yer never gonna guess whats happenin, Mate! Mate referred to both Orlha and Riddel.
What is it? Riddel asked, curious, but not really expecting the news to be big. Kid was one to be rather excitable at times.
Porres base down in Arni is on fire. Some kinda bomb went off, or somethin. Ya can see the thing from miles away!
Riddel and Orlha both looked over to Glenn, as if searching for some kind of confirmation. Instinctively, the dragoon nodded, his solid expression never swaying from the seriousness conveyed on it. Orlha was typically devoid of emotion as well, but in this case, she allowed a smile to crack on her face. Seriously? This is great news!
Yeah, ya got that right! Kid exclaimed. Tell Serge an the others to get their arses in gear! They gotta come watch this!
Theyre all in the war room right now. Looks like theyre going to miss out on the fun, Orlha said.
Glenn, silent at this point, offered, Orlha, you and Riddel can go check it out with Kid. Ill stay here and take over the guard duty. Ive already seen it.
Riddels head tilted to the side, You sure, Glenn?
He smiled softly when he looked into the big, sparkling eyes of Vipers daughter. Take care of yourself, mlady!
She looked like she was ready to respond with a thanks, but Kid abruptly cut her off before she could speak. Oy, lets get goin, then! This destruction aint gonna appreciate itself! With that, Kid was already running down the dirty brown path of the ugly, lifeless earth below. In this area of the world, the plants hadnt been dead for long enough to have decayed completely, so all around there was a mass of tangled blackish stems and roots, interwoven with the muck on the ground and the parasites infesting the area. The moldy fungus and soft, rotten, decomposed flora mushed into a pulp similar in texture to mud when stepped on, only it stuck to the bottom of ones foot like some type of adhesive paste. It was, all in all, disgustingly vile, but with the recent news of todays events, the world seemed just a little bit less bleak. Orhla and Riddel took off behind Kid, knowing theyd never catch up to her if they didnt hurry.
Leena found herself crawling across the cream colored carpet in her home, not far from where the first missile had hit. She was incapable of much movement beyond the crawling, because the fall she had taken had caused a hairline fracture to a bone in her lower arm, and the shards of glass from the bathroom mirror had imbedded themselves into the muscles of her leg. Her face had been bruised as well, but that was of little concern to her. She ignored the excruciating stings throughout her body as she painstakingly made her way across the floor.
Still dressed in nothing but her bathrobe, Leena gradually inched her way closer to the telephone. Soon, with everyone trying to make sense of the disaster, people would be calling her the way hornets would swarm an intruder attacking the queen. A stream of blood traced her movements across the floor back to the bathroom, where the warm, sticky liquid had already begun to dry and turn to a darker brownish hue. The mess didnt concern her, though. She could have the carpets replaced later.
The general pulled herself up on a table with her good arm just in time for the private line to begin ringing. Leena picked up the receiver, not in the mood for formalities. Speak! she commanded, gritting her teeth to force the words out and not letting her pain seep into the sound of her voice.
Leena! Are you alright!
She recognized the voice immediately. Norris! What the hell is going on!?
Theyre missiles, General. Im assembling a team of analysts as we speak. Were getting everyone available to a secret meeting place, and were going to-
Missiles!? Were being attacked by goddamn missiles!? the leader of Arni screeched, venom hanging off her articulation.
Affirmative, Norris replied.
Leena fumed, Youre telling me somebody launched a fucking missile at us, we dont know who did it, we dont know where it came from, and not a person in all of Porre had the slightest clue that this sonuvabitch was coming!?
Wrong, General. We did see this thing coming, Norris replied. I just got off the line with Admiral Wazuki, out on the aircraft carrier. They detected strange movements on the radar screen, and we have multiple confirmed visual reports of seeing the white plume of smoke trailing behind what must have been one of the rockets. Apparently, Wazuki thought it was some kinda test fire. It wouldnt have mattered anyway, because even with the detection, we dont have anything in place that could intercept a missile in midair, especially at the range it was likely fired from.
Who did this to us? Leena demanded.
Weve got three hundred scientists making calculations and checking the computer data. As soon as they know where this thing came from, well know. After this, the phone went silent for a couple seconds. Is this line encrypted?
Christ, Norris! Does it even matter? The question was rhetorical. It most certainly did not. Norris, I cant make it to your emergency war assembly. Im injured. Pretty badly.
Ill send for a medic. Theyve got their hands full right now, but theyll make room for you. Be of sound health, Leena.
General Norris, Im issuing a direct order of the utmost importance to you. Find the bastards that did this, and hunt them to the ends of the earth, Leena stated, returning to her reputation of ruling with an iron fist.
You can count on me, came the reply.
I most certainly understand you not being able to trust me, Leena, Guile said, still astounded by the beauty of a world that hadnt been ravaged by war. This dimension was certainly far better off than his own.
I dont know who you are Leena blatantly asserted. You appeared out of nowhere, you started yelling at me, and you choked me. Ive got purple bruises on my neck from your fingers. I the young girl, understandably, still remained in shock from the incident. Her neck hurt with soreness, and although she wasnt shedding tears, her eyes were about ready to burst from the water welled up inside them. She sniffled slightly. Just leave me alone!
Guile frowned. Leena, youre all Ive got in this world, and Im all youve got if you want to see Serge again. I know that this sounds more like a ransom than a terms to base a partnership off of, especially with that stunt I pulled back there in the bedroom when I thought you were my enemy, but try to look at the broader picture here. Right now, we need each other. So, if you can accept my apology, I really believe that we should put this episode of our lives behind us.
Leena made no attempt to answer, and Guile frowned disappointingly when he realized this. Look, Im going to go out and explore this new world that Ive found. Itll help me clear my thoughts, and itll give you some time to be alone to think about my proposal. Ill be back before sunrise tomorrow. Ill see you then.
He turned away from the girl sprawled on the floor, and floated out of the house. The fresh air, air that had not been tainted with the putrid odor of death or particles of radioactive decay, would do him some good.
I have discovered the greatest of all enigmas, Guile muttered to himself, observing vegetation for the first time in years. An entire world, overflowing with ambiguity. Struth, it has been an interesting trip thus far, and indeed, it shall only become more surprising. I just hope that back home, all is well during my absence.
This Page © Copyright 1997, Brian Work. All rights reserved. Thanks to Sax for his help with the layout. Do not take anything from this page without my consent. If you wish to contact an author, artist, reviewer, or any other contributor to the site, their email address can be found on their index page. This site is link-free, meaning you don't need to ask me if you'd like to link to it. Best viewed in 1024x768.