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After the Fall: Part 3

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Part 1
Part 2

No I havent abandoned this story. I've just been busy. But I had alot of time to write during jury duty.
Also, Im about done with all the setup. So I swear there will be some action soon.

Justin stepped out of the teleporter feeling unexpectedly calm. He thought he would feel dizzy or disoriented. But he didn't. He was fine. The only source of trouble for his mind was that voice he'd heard. It sounded just like his own "inner" voice. "Probably just stress," thought Justin. It was as good an explanation as any. He'd certainly been through enough to warrant such an experience.

"This way to operations," said Anders. He began walking. Justin followed.

This place was much smaller than Area 51. Quarters were close. Everything was a little more cramped. The ceilings were much lower and more fortified. There were fewer personel here also.

"Right now we're underneath Central Park, Manhattan." Said the General. "There's a greater amount of activity here in New York than in most other cities. Only Washington seems to be more occupied. But our facilities there were completely overrun."

They stepped towards a steel security door flanked by two guards armed with M16s. The guards saluted the General and eyed Sergeant James. Justin wanted to say something or make some sort of manerism to show that he was still "one of the guys." Something to remind them that he was on their side. Not to mention, something to let them know that he was higher in rank than they were. But it was pointless.

Beyond the doors was a circular room lined with monitors. A stereotypical war room that one might see in the movies. The type of place where strategies were planned and the fates of men were decided. In the center there was a polished black table with 13 chairs. Inexplicably, Justin was reminded of The Last Supper. Twelve apostles and one savior. The fates of men were decided there too.

But this table was round. And currently only one man was sitting at it. Admiral Thomas Halderman. Someone who was quite unlike Jesus. He was known for being stubborn and unyeilding during times of conflict. His manner reflected this. You'd swear he was born standing at attention.

"I'll assume your familiar with Admiral Halderman," said the General.

The Admiral interrupted."Let's get to business."

Justin and Anders sat as Halderman briefed the Seargent.

"We dont know why we've been invaded. No demands have been made. No broadcasts of any kind. No signs of a central intelligence; human or otherwise. And we dont know who manufactured these monstrosities. Russia and China were also hit pretty hard, so that rules them out. Korea and Palestine show smaller levels of activity. So they may be a possibility, but it's not likely. Either way, there doesnt seem to be any clear methodology to this mass assault, with one exception. the greatest enemy concentrations are in highly populated cities, which are becoming less populated by the minute. the current decision has been to amass a large scale counter-action using our remaining equipment and personel. However, the reason we havent done so already is because our G.P.S. and comm. sattelites are being destroyed. And that's where you and Gunnery Sergeant Matt Lebe come in."

Justin raised a non-existent eyebrow.

"He should be here momentarily," said Halderman.

Momentarily was right.
From a set of doors opposite those which Justin had entered strode another monster. Another 'imp'.
He was taller than himslef, Justin guessed. More muscular too. The recon guys bagged him a good one.

Take a seat, Gunnery Sergeant," said the Admiral.
He sat opposite Justin and shot him a tooth-filled smile.

"My, my. Is that what we look like."

Justin froze. It was the voice again. What was causing this? Was it the teleporter? He hadnt heard anything before then. Was he going mad? Is this how it happened for those other guys Anders had mentioned?!

Halderman resumed his breifing, interrupting Justin's train of thought.
"As I was saying, our sattelites are being taken out. We believe the attacks are coming from Ixion Space Station. The station is equipped with a high-speed magnetic launcher designed for material shipments to our labs on Phobos. It's conceivable that the launcher is being used to fire materials at our satellites. The station is owned and operated by the Union Aerospace Corporation.
This brings us to our second point of concern. We've observed a high level of activity at the Irving Air and Space Port located between Manhattan and Staten Island; also operated by the U.A.C. That said, we think there's a connection."

The magnitude of the situation was astounding. Justin could barely accept it. What were they up against?

Halderman continued.
"Your mission, gentlemen, is to access Irving and report to us from there using the communicators implanted in your left forearms."

"So that's what that thing is," thought Justin. He could feel a vague knob on the underside of his left arm, near the wrist.

"Afterwards, you two will commandeer a spacecraft and make your way to Ixion Station. The communicators won't function once your out of orbit. Once you're at the station, you can use it's comm. system to contact us and recieve further instructions. Being that we dont know the enemy's capabilities, we suggest you only use your communicators when necessary."

"Wonderful," thought Justin. "Could this get any worse?"

Halderman stood poised for a moment, then turned and faced Anders.
Anders stood up and began to speak.
"There's one more thing, gentlemen."

Justin sighed internally. He'd spoken too soon.

"I realize you've been trained to stand tall in any situation. And I hope that training hasnt left you."
He walked over to a console with a few moniters and tapped away. A few of them then displayed various scenes throughout the city.

Oh yes, this was much worse.

Burning cars, collapsed buildings, and bodies... so many bodies. There was movement too, but the picture was to foggy to make it out.

Anders continued. "It's difficult to make out, but that's what the boys in the lab have nicknamed a 'demon'. You'll have the displeasure of meeting them soon. However, given your apearances, You two shouldnt encounter any difficulties. As far as we've seen, these beings aren't intelligent. More like wild dogs that were let loose on us. So it shouldnt be too difficult for you to blend in with them. Unfortunately, blending in is your immediate concern. If you encounter survivors, you cannot aid them. Furthermore, keep in mind that any survivors will be unaware of your identities. So it's best to aviod human contact entirely... or rather, avoid contact with other humans.

"Haha," chuckled Lebe. "Drive it in, why dont you."

Halderman scowled at him. But Justin was glad to hear the outburst. It did his mind good to know that there was still a little laughter left in the world. A little piece of humanity.

The facilities twelve remaining soldiers took a defensive position; M-16s aimed at the heavy steel doors leading to the intermediary chamber. Beyind that was the outside world, ready to brutalize any man foolish enough to believe that he was in control.

"Well, this is it," said General Anders as he and Admiral Halderman led Justin and Mathew towards the assemblage. Haldermans footsteps, coupled with the clicking sounds of clawed feet against metal floor grating were the pair's farewell fanfare. Anders' mild limp was the drum beat.

Justin's imagination ran wild. He didnt stop it. He wanted to prepare for what he would face. He'd seen battle before; watched men get injured and die. But he knew this would be different. There was a world of pain out there.

"Take care of yourselves out there men," said Anders , smiling that the two. "We'll be here waiting for the two of you to contact us."

"Move with a sense of urgency gentlemen. There's no time to waste," added Halderman.

He punched his security code into a security panel and the doors began to open. A concrete chamber and identical steel doors laid beyond. No lights, no panels, no turning back.

Sergeant James and Gunney Lebe stepped into the vestibule. Neither looked back. It would only increase their dread.
The doors behind them began to close, stealing away the only available light. As the room dimmed, Justin had flashbacks about the dream he'd had before; the darkening room, the ominous figures. With them came recollections of what had brought him here, when all of this started. He was in an apartment complex in Austin. All hell had broken loose, and there were no oreders other than to respond to the attack. Somehow he and a few other men had charged into the complex following the screams of civillians. It was all they could think to do.

The doors finally sealed behind them with an echoing thud. All was black and silent.

"That wasnt the beginning. This is the beginning."

"Push it out Justin. Just push it out." thought Justin. He wondered if Gunney Lebe was going through the same thing.

Now the second set of doors began to open, and a dullred light poured in from the ceiling lamp in the next room. There was a stone stairway leading upward as well. At the top of the stairs was and iron grate. Stray light from the outside world pryed through it's edges. The scent of burning rubber came with it.

"Abandon all faith," said Lebe with an unintentionally wicked smile.

They marched up the steps and listened at the grate. There was a faint rumbling in the distance, but no sounds of footsteps or anything else to indicate the presence of hostiles.

With one solid heave, they flung the gate open... and nearly fell back when the smell of burning rubber and oil and hair hit them like a punch in the face.

This wasn't home. This was Hell on Earth.

"What should we do with the Sergeants body," asked Dr. Gentry.

"Keep it on ice," responded General Anders. "We might find a use for it later on."
The General terminated the connection with Area 51 and turned to Admiral Halderman, who was staring intently at the few functioning moniters.

"It's a shame, you know. They were fine men."

"We do what we must, General" responded Halderman.

Anders sighed. "Still, I'd prefer to at least have been completely forthcoming."

Halderman looked as bemused as his stone face would allow. "Johnathan... I'm sure I dont have to inform you of how foolish it would be to tell a man that he's being sent on a suicide
mission. Even if he is a marine."

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