Welcome to the End
First Lieutenant Dan Desoto of the Alliance Marines slowly opened his amber colored eyes which instantly began to burn and tear up as the rancid air that now made up most of the atmosphere on Earth hit them. He quickly covered them with his goggles and the pain subsided, “must have knocked them off in my sleep” he thought standing up from dirty bare mattress. His vision was still slightly blurred from the onslaught of chemicals that his eyes just endured but it was getting better. His lungs burned slightly and he wondered just how long it would be until the very air he breathes will kill him. Dying didn’t concern him anymore he had lost nearly everyone he cared about left behind by the Alliance his armor was dirty and scratched. He vowed to avenge his unit who was tasked to find survivors on Earth get them out, he was to be evacuated thirty six hours after insertion that was five months ago. Had the mission ended on time he could have got fifty civilians to safety but that number has since dropped to less than twenty.
A young female Alliance Marine in fully battle uniform including her helmet walked up to him and saluted. Dan returned the salute “Where are we at?” He asks her dropping his right hand down from his brow.
“Twenty civilians, three military mission ready, two military KIA, three military MIA presumed KIA, and two wounded civilians in serious condition. Doc says if they don’t get care soon…” her words trailed off once she noticed his eyes.
“Don’t worry they are fine, goggles slipped off while I was sleeping.” He said almost reading her mind. Though he couldn’t see her face through the helmet he knew she was blushing, the night they shared together before the mission had made things more complicated but he didn’t regret it.
“Yeah well you wouldn’t be wearing those shitty goggles if it wasn’t for me getting my helmet shot up.” She reminding him.
“Well I was going to do a statement of charges and bill you for it, but I figured you would need to see as well.” He said playfully and pulled her close to him.
She didn’t fight him when he grabbed her waist though his hands were a little liberal in their placement. She playfully pushed him back “don’t start something we can’t finish… Sir.” She said. She was always warned never to get mixed up with a commanding officer but she wasn’t ashamed. Besides the heart wants what the heart wants she thought.
“Yes ma’am.” Dan said saluting as a big grin flashed over his face.
“Gunnery Sergeant Alanson to you, I work for a living.” She said with a laugh.
“Got it Crystal. Tell Doc I need to see him, we are moving north again.” He said to her bringing the discussion back to the task at hand.
“Yes sir.” She said and left him though she knew he was watching her leave and it made her body quiver as a wave of heat washed over her. “Stop it, acting like a damn school girl with a crush!” A voice in her head told her, but she didn’t want to stop it. She finally found someone who looked past her looks which were quiet nice if she did say so and into her. She wanted to get off Earth and back to their ship, she wanted to feel his skin on hers once again, and to lose herself in passion of the moment. “After ten showers of course” she thought, so lost in her thoughts she didn’t see Doc Winters until he was nearly right in front of her.
“Day dreaming?” The Corpsman asked.
“What?! No, um… LT needs to talk to you. How are the civilians?” She asked hoping he didn’t notice the embarrassment in her voice.
“Right, got it… they are scared, tired, hungry, and two won’t survive another move.” He told her in a matter of fact way that concerned her.
Winters had a way of cutting through the bull shit when he had to. She guessed all medics and corpsman had to have that ability, but she just nodded and he went to see the LT. She walked over and grabbed her rifle that was leaning on a busted up wall. They had found a burnt out building for the night, travel at night wasn’t wise. Suddenly there was a light tap on her right leg and she looked down to see a young girl holding up a small yellow flower a dandelion she guessed. Those weeds could survive everything she thought taking the small flower from the girl. “Thank you.” She said.
“You are welcome, thank you for saving me.” The girl said before running off.
She watched the little girl run back to the group and felt the rage rising inside of her.
“Are you sure?” Crystal asked Dan as he pulled her into his small quarters on the Empire a next generation carrier in the Alliance. She knew they had a mission in a few hours to Earth no less and he wanted to do this now?
“We might never have the chance if we wait.” Dan said before closing the door and sitting her on his bed.
“Don’t talk like that, you know I don’t think it is funny. Besides how hard can a sweep mission be?” Crystal said watching Dan take off his shirt exposing his torso, he wasn’t overly muscular but tone and she reached up and helped him out of his pants. “Please don’t let me regret this.” She thought to herself right before standing up and kissing him hard on the lips.
“I don’t care!” Dan screamed at Doc Winters. “We can’t stay here, so if they die then they will do it on the move!” Dan slammed his fist into a small charred table breaking it.
“Fine! You asked for my opinion and I gave it LT. I am not going to sugarcoat it to make you feel better about the decisions you made to get us here!” Doc screamed back.
“What is that?” Dan said now with fire in his eyes, the goggles making them look a little bigger.
“You fucking heard me, and you know I am right.” Winters said not backing down an inch.
Crystal slowly opened her deep blue eyes and brushed her long black hear from her face. Blue eyes were all but extinct in the human race now, but some had them from genetic modifies. Hers on the other had were one hundred percent natural, even her doctors couldn’t really explain it.
“Well look who decided to wake up.” Dan said with a smile on his face. “I need to go to the briefing for the Earth mission now, looks like in a few days we will be home… what’s left of it that is. Take as long as you want, the shower might have some warm water left if you are lucky. I’ll see you at breakfast in about an hour.” He finished then put on his top.
Crystal only smiled and watched him leave, well watched a certain part of his anatomy once the door shut she decided to take him up on that shower. Walking over she turned it on “Hmm warm water.”
“Let’s go!” Dan scream back to those behind him as they moved through the streets he was on point Crystal behind him the civilians next followed by two make shift litters carried by a few civilians and lastly Winters was bringing up the rear of the formation.
“We need to take a break Dan.” Crystal said to him, but he just shook his head and kept the pace up.
Moving through the streets was dangerous and Dan didn’t want to repeat past mistakes. If they stop now they could be ambushed by the gangs that now controlled the streets. The stench of gas and burning rubble filled his nose and he coughed his lungs were on fire and his legs ached. “We need to…” Before he could finish Doc Winters spoke up.
“We got one down!” He yelled up to Dan who stopped and looked back. Dan looked and saw one of the civilians clutching his chest and laying on the ground. He saw the man go limp and Doc starting CPR. “Leave him!” Dan shouted.
“Are you insane? I’m not leaving him until I know he is dead!” Doc responded and continued CPR.
Dan had enough he slowly walked up to the dying man pulled his pistol and shot him twice in the skull. The man’s skull opened up spraying Doc Winters in blood and brain matter. “He’s dead, now let’s go.” Dan said heading back to the front looking out at the horizon.
“Have you lost your mind?” Winters asked in disbelief.
“We don’t have the supplies or the time for you to waste on a sixty year old man who was overweight as it is. Call it battlefield triage if you want, report me when we get back if you like. However right now Doc I need to keep as many people alive as I can until we can contact the Alliance or find a shuttle.” He said starting to walk again “Let’s go! Either follow me or stay but I don’t have time for a fucking debate!” With that the civilians began to follow.
“So that is the plan everyone got it?” Dan asked his team.
“Got it Sir.” Crystal said with a hint of a smile on her lips.
Dan nodded and smiled back “Okay everyone on the shuttle, let’s get this over with.” He said then got on the shuttle that would drop them off and return to the carrier. It wasn’t safe to keep it in place. A short bumpy flight down to the Earth’s surface and the team disembarked and looked at what had become of the Planet that gave birth to the human race.
“God help us.” Winters said looking around.
What was once the largest city on Earth, Dallas had become a smoldering ruin, skyscrapers were on fire in the background their dark back smoke blocking out most of the sunlight. Dead bodies littered the streets in various levels of decay from skeletal remains to days old and the smell would have been over powering but the team kept their helmets on.
“Let’s go, we got thirty six hours to get to the distress beacon get the immune survivors and call the shuttle.” Dan said as he moved out deeper into the city.
Crystal couldn’t believe what she was seeing, she had visited Dallas on leave once and at the sight of what had become of it her heart sank in her chest. She reached down and picked up a paper newspaper “that’s odd” she thought knowing most cities didn’t print on paper anymore due to the cost. But the headline explained it for her “Group Destroys Extranet Hub in Terrorist Attack 1,000 Dead or Injured.” She walked and continued to read the article below the headline.
“Dallas, Texas — Authorities blamed a bombing rampage that killed 829 people and wounded 171 at an Extranet and Business station in southern Dallas on separatists from the state’s far west and vowed a harsh crackdown Sunday, while residents wondered why their laid-back city was targeted.
Alliance Marines fatally shot four of the assailants — putting the overall death toll at 833 — and captured another after the attack late Saturday in Austin, the capital of Texas, the official Alliance News Agency said. But authorities were searching for at least five more of the black-clad attackers.
Local broadcaste DFWTV said two of the assailants were women, including one of the slain and the one detained.
“All-out efforts should be made to treat the injured people, severely punish terrorists according to the law, and prevent the occurrence of similar cases,” said Dallas’s top police official, Dallas PD Chief Mark Zenack. The FBI also arrived in Dallas early Sunday, an indication of how seriously authorities viewed the attack.
The attackers’ identities have not been confirmed, but evidence at the scene showed that it was “a terrorist attack carried out by The Society of the Lamb which is a religious separatist force,” Zenack said. The far western region of Texas is home to a simmering rebellion against Alliance rule by the members of the Society, and some of the western population. The Alliance has responded there with heavy-handed security vowing to root out those responsible.”
Before she could read anymore a large crack filled her helmet and she was knocked backwards in as her vision went black. The last thing she heard before she blacked out was gunfire and someone screaming “For God.”
Dan held up the group he couldn’t believe his eye there was an Alliance Shuttle with a Cerberus patrol about 500 meters in front of the group. “We will get out of here after all.” And turned around to the group.
“Okay I know we are all tired but about 500 meters north of here is our way out of this nightmare.” Dan said and paused looking at everyone “I know you don’t agree with what I have done, but it was for the greater good of the group, I hope that someday you can see that.” With that he turned around and led them toward the shuttle and the end of the mission.
Three of the Cerberus troops were off loading a large canister when the mission leader spotted the group heading for them. “What the hell?” He said to himself. “Get the damn things off loaded we need to deal with this.” He snapped and the troops did as they were told. He pulled up his Omni tool and contacted his mission control, Admiral Xen.
“This is Blackhawk 6, requesting instructions from the Admiral.” He said and waited.
“What is it Six? Are you finished?” Xen snapped back over the comms.
“No ma’am we have a group of civilians lead by what looks like three Alliance Marines, what are your orders?” He replied.
“Any children among them?” Xen asked her voice sounding hopeful.
“Yes ma’am looks like five of them are children.” He replied still watching the group approach.
“Bring me the children I have just the project for them, the rest can spend their last few minutes on Earth. Remember those fuel bombs go off in ten minutes I suggest you make it quick or you will not be leaving either. Xen Out”
The Cerberus leader closed the Omni Tool and walked over to the other troops who just finished the job and told them the new mission.
Dan walked up to the leader and offered his hand but before he could say thanks a shot rang out hitting him square in the forehead sending a pink mist of blood and brain into the air behind him. His lifeless body took one more step forward and fell to the ground.
“Sniper!” Called out the Cerberus leader and quickly ran forward rounded up the children and ushered them onto the shuttle. Once he was sure they were safe he shot the remaining two Alliance Marines in the head point blank as they looked at the roof tops for enemy fire.
“Good work soldier, return to the shuttle we need to get out of here.” The Leader said as he finished off the remaining survivors with a quick bust from his pistol. Each fell where they stood their blood staining the street below their bodies all of their faces frozen with either shock or terror. The leader shrugged his shoulders and boarded the shuttle where the others were tranquilizing the children. Before the door closed he radioed Xen once more “Mission complete.” With that the door closed and the shuttle lifted off, from behind it a large explosion leveled what was left of Dallas, Texas.