Station 19

Discussion in 'The Lounge' started by AJ Rimmer, Aug 26, 2005.

  1. AJ Rimmer

    AJ Rimmer Tank

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    Soooo... this is a new fanfic by moi. Just got hit by inspiration last night and got some nice ideas for this. Feel free to comment.

    Chapter 1: Memory

    A bird soared majestically through the air, riding on invisible air streams, defying gravity and ignoring the desolate areas underneath it for the moment.
    It bathed in the early morning light and in its simple brain it found the time to be perfect for a snack.
    It dove down towards the ground and pulled up at the exactly right time and started picking on the ground.
    A particularly wriggling worm caught its attention. It crawled away from him, fighting desperately for its life, but the bird was a superior creature in virtually all aspects, and so, it would rightly take its place in the food chain fairly soon.
    The worm kept on wriggling, running in its own world, trying to get away from its hunter. The bird finally caught it in its beak and was about to cut it in two when another creature entered the arena.
    The slimy sticky tongue grabbed hold of the bird's wing and yanked it up in the air towards the under railing of the walkway above it.
    This creature, unlike its prey, had not earned its place in the food chain.
    It had entered from another world, from outside and was defending its place in the ecosystem with tooth and nail.
    The bird flapped and twisted, tried to get away, and for each twist and turn it got trapped with another body part on the sticky line which lifted it higher and higher, until the small bird's life was cut short by the forceful mouth of the creature.
    There was a crunching sound. And that was it.

    Alan sighed. He had watched the whole scene sitting down against a wall. The barnacles in the city were different from the ones out by the coast. In here, they seemed to hunt the birds.
    There was no way to explain it, he had always wondered how the barnacles attached themselves to things, but here in the city, they were always near the birds. It was not the first time he had witnessed it. As if they actually tracked the birds.
    He had a theory that something from the barnacles attracted them, but they never headed for them, they were always looking for food or just flying when out of nowhere a tongue would catch them.
    Sometimes he himself never even saw the thing, and thanked the bird for revealing this danger to him. This one he knew of from before. It was his main source of entertainment to watch it catch birds all day.
    He turned half around and marked another X on the wall behind him with a rock. That made eight birds in under a week. That barnacle was actually a big headache and a tactical advantage at the same time. For while it blocked the entrance to the small outpost that made station 19, it also could be helpful if they were ever attacked.
    Removing it would be too noisy, so instead it was named Albert, and turned into a source of amusement and gambling. The highest expected result was twelve birds before the weekend, and so far it wasn't looking good for Alan, the next bird had better be Albert's last snack or those new shoes were history.
    The station was actually a few feet below him, this was the lookout. Station 19 was situated under the highway. Ten years ago, this would probably have been one of the noisiest spots one could find in City 14. But just like the city's name had changed, so had that simple fact. Now the highway lay abandoned.
    The only sound detectable was that of water dripping, the odd scanner disturbing someone, and occasionally a helicopter, all mixed in with different propaganda speeches, most of them delivered by Dr Breen, the Interim Administrator of earth. The odd one was delivered by some well groomed human dressed in clean clothes, praising Civil Protection and begging for co-operation from the rest of the populace.

    Below him someone banged the grates carefully and called out his name.
    "Psst, hey Alan!" Below the dirty steel bars appeared Frank, a short and pale guy from block 131B with a big grin on his face. "What's up?"
    "Nothing. Albert got another one."
    "Damn! Looks like I'm out. Anyway, it's my shift, you go get some sleep."
    "Fine by me. Enjoy the show buddy." Alan checked over the edge of the concrete barrier that blocked the small space underneath the freeway from public view. If you stayed behind it not a soul could see you from outside, and even then the dark would help you. He looked out and glanced at the street. It was fairly empty.
    He grabbed the bars and released it from its hinges and placed it on the dirt mattress by him so as to not make a sound. Frank heaved himself up, and without saying a word to each other Alan slipped by him and climbed down the sewer pipe. Halfway down he heard the grate being put back into place and felt a few dirty raindrop fall down on him.
    When his foot reached the end of the tube he jumped and landed like a cat on both feet.
    The cold and damp area underneath the lookout was occupied by the four other resistance members of Station 19. Garry, Phil, Catherine and Frederick. Fred and Garry were sleeping, Catherine was playing with a deck of cards that was missing thirteen cards and Phil was watching the radio.
    Cath gave a mumbled "hello" as the only sign that Alan had entered the room. Alan grunted something back and immediately collapsed on the mattress.
    He hugged the dirty piece of cloth tight and closed his eyes. But he did not sleep. It was hard to sleep. He had often though that if that highway above him had been active he might have had an easier time going to sleep.
    As always he started thinking. Thinking about the days before the Universal Union, before the combine, before the resistance, Breen, Station 19 and City 14.

    He didn't remember all of it. He had never bought that whole thing about the Combine putting something in the water, he was sure it was just a rumour, but he wouldn't drink anything with Dr Breen's name on it by sheer principle.
    He did, for example, remember his parents of course, and he did remember their house in downtown... There it was. The first gap. He remembered the city well, he remembered a whole lot about it, but for the life of him he couldn't remember the name.
    If he was in Europe now he must have always been in Europe, because he didn't take a boat at anytime. Or at least, not that he recalled. He did see a lot of the coast on the way but they never crossed the water.
    And yet he had a distinct suspicion that he was from England. Or maybe France. No, not France. Maybe Scandinavia? Ah! It was hopeless. His name didn't help him much, his last name he couldn't remember, and like most people who lived within the city limits, their dialects, whatever they may have been before, had sort of gotten worn out and eventually disappeared completely.
    That fact disturbed him a whole lot more than the water rumours. Occasionally there was a recent arrival who still had a strong Russian accent or Ukrainian, which led him to believe he was now somewhere in Eastern Europe. This theory was also supported by the weather, especially during winters.
    He remembered the day he came home from school and his mother was yelling at him to get inside from the balcony on the fifth or sixth floor. He hurried up the stairs, afraid something had happened, and when he got inside his mother was sitting transfixed by the TV watching a newscast.
    The TV was announcing something about escaped animals, and they were showing a map that tracked the creatures from America. It seemed to originate in New Mexico and then in all directions, but there were several red areas spread at random all across the map now, separated from the main outburst.
    After that there was a lot of experts interrupting each other and then getting cut mid-sentence for live photography from New York, Washington and Los Angeles, and then from London and Paris where apparently one of these things had attacked a woman. The rest of that day was spent in front of the TV, watching newscast after newscast. By nightfall these things seemed to be all over Europe. There were even reports of bigger animals, attacking and damaging entire houses on the countryside.

    The radio crackled to life and Alan awoke from his thoughts.
    "Station 11 to Station 19. Come in station 19. Station 11 calling Station 19, do you read? Over."
    "This is Station 19, read you Station 11, over."
    "We have a train coming in, looks like six persons in the first car and two in the next."
    "Understood, Station 18 is closer."
    "Negative, 18 has an APC parked right infront of it. This one's yours."
    "Roger 11, 19 out."
    Alan was already halfway up the pipe when Phil finished waking up the other two.
     
  2. knut

    knut Party Escort Bot

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    I like. More plzzz.
     
  3. Darkwolf

    Darkwolf Tank

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    We Demand More Or Face Extermination!

    :D
     
  4. DElta418

    DElta418 Newbie

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    This story has inspired me to start a new story as well. Good job so far. Nice dialog.
     
  5. AJ Rimmer

    AJ Rimmer Tank

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    Chapter 2: Show time


    The street was all but empty, a group of CPs were standing guard in an alley a bit further down and a woman was sitting on a park bench half asleep not far from Station 19's exit point, but she wouldn't notice them and the cops couldn't see them from where they were standing.
    Alan was number two in line, following Frederick as they quickly made their way from pillar to pillar underneath the massive highway. When they reached the back wall where the bridge became a road again they quickly ducked out into the streets as far away from the CPs as possible. Alan and Fred were armed, each a pistol tucked inside their pants but that was it.
    They made their way towards the train station slowly so as not to arouse suspicion. When they spotted the profile of the main station house they paused in a back alley. Fred checked both roads around them and then the others gathered in a ring around him.

    "Okay, so we got eight of them in there, half of them are bound to the stalker factory, the rest is doubtful. Most of them will get cleared, and I doubt we can get to the Colony 31 train from here. Our best bet is them grabbing one for questioning." His words were followed by a high-pitched wailing sound not too far away.
    "Sounds like the train just arrived." Garry added pointlessly. Like clockwork, an APC slowly pulled in from a street outside and positioned itself across the square from the station.
    Two Civil Protection officers got out and stretched their limbs before checking their weapons. They were the only two cops in the whole square and so they were armed more than was common.
    "Bingo, they're bringing one out for questioning. Jenny, you better get going right away." Jenny nodded and was gone before anyone spotted which way she took.
    "The rest of you know what to do, who wants to be the pick-up?" Alan and Garry looked at each other.
    "I'll go." Alan said simply, and they were done.

    Alan had seen it happen a few times.
    Sometimes, when a big load of new transfers arrived, Civil Protection liked to pick someone, usually one of those who rightfully should get cleared for access to City 14 and take them in for questioning.
    It was nothing more than a display, a parade. The suspect would be brought out arm in arm by two CPs from the station and paraded across the square which would always be full of people at the day of a new arrival and handed over to another pair of heavily armed CPs halfway across.
    They would pay far too much attention to the safety precautions, in order to make sure everyone understood what a dangerous person the subject was, and then put the subject in the APC.
    And that was it. The whole thing was dragged out to at least a full two minutes, a lot of unnecessary radio calls and signing of papers and then the subject was gone.
    He or she was then taken to the Overwatch command downtown for questioning, from which he or she would not return.

    When Alan first arrived to City 14, the guy next to him in line had been pulled out and dragged into a room. With a broken nose he had then emerged from the station and been put in the APC.
    He was sure that happened here, because he remembered everything was like it was now. It couldn't have been in City 13, the station house looked different, ditto City 17. Wait, had he been to City 17? Maybe it was 16? Ah dammit to hell!
    He sat down a bench by the edge of the square. Fred was on the opposite side from him, making sure not to make eye contact with anyone. Garry was behind him, presumably.
    The sun was higher up now, basking the whole square in its warm rays. Alan leaned his head back and for a second he enjoyed the view, until his focus found the Citadel.
    Tall, slim, cold, dark and menacing, it would have cast its ugly shadow right on him, had he been sitting here a few hours ago. A scanner flew by and blinded him for a few minutes before he managed to resume his thoughts from earlier today.

    He recalled images of creatures roaming the streets. First just smaller ones, fat ugly things on four legs which he thought to be some kind of mutated pigs the first time he saw them. He knew better now. He remembered when he woke up one day to a horrible scream from next door. His father had rushed out into the stairwell by the time he got up and then...
    He couldn't remember his father's face as little as he could either of his parent's names, but he did remember the long deep cuts across his chest and the scream the monster made.
    A monster wearing their neighbour, Mr Brendt's clothes. His mother had screamed loudly as her husband fell down some stairs and alerted the monster to their presence. Alan had promptly shut the door and locked it. The monster had tried to brake in using nothing but its fists but had failed.
    That day there were very few newscasts. There would be even less to come the following weeks.

    Alan cast a glance towards the station house but there was nothing there. Just as he leaned his head back again the two doors swung open and the suspect, a young woman, probably not even thirty, which is about as young as people were in this day and age, was brought out.
    A broken nose, a swollen lip and a bruised eye had apparently taken the fight out of her, because Alan could see in her eyes she knew what was coming, and yet she made no move to resist. As soon as the three passed him by he got up and kept close, without actually getting close to them. It was show time.

    High up on the rooftops a tall woman stepped out into the sun through an empty window. She jumped down and landed smoothly on the ledge underneath and started carefully knocking the tiles until she found the spot.
    One after one Jenny picked up the tiles and placed them silently on the ledge under her feet. The scanners didn't bother to go this high unless they had suspicion, but too much sound could alert them. The heap of tiles got larger until a hole about as big as a man's head was clear in the roof. Jenny reached in and felt around until she felt the cold metal against her fingers. She adjusted it to fit through the hole and looked around one last time before she brought out the sniper rifle.
    A box of ammo quickly followed and she was ready. She moved down the ledge holding a brick in her hand until she reached the side facing the square.
    Now on her stomach she crawled to the very edge and peaked over. No CPs yet. From here she could clearly see the train station, she looked down the sight and made sure the laser sight was off. She looked through the scope and spent a minute or two firing on her resistance friends. She then carefully loaded four rounds into the chamber. One for the first CP, one for the next if she had time, and a backup for each if she missed.
    She again made sure the barrel only peaked over the edge with an inch or so and waited.
    For almost three minutes she waited until she saw the doors open. She immediately took aim for one of them. She saw Alan join up a few feet behind them, from here it really looked like he was heading a completely different direction, but he never got further away from them then twelve feet. The CPs handed over their prisoner to the next pair of cops and Jenny shifted the sight to one of them. As the first pair of CPs started making their way back she got cracking.
    The left or the right? The right one was holding her, so shooting him might drag her to the ground with him, but the left one had his SMG swung over his shoulder to right something on a clipboard, so he wouldn't pose a threat. Right it was then. She checked around them, made sure Alan was in position and carefully took aim. The two lines intersected up over the soldier's chest, up his neck and finally found it's spot on the back of the head. Slowly, slowly she squeezed the trigger.

    A pack of birds fled in panic high above them as the second shot rang tore up a hole in the ground, but missed the second soldier completely. Alan had already grabbed his gun and the cop never had a chance despite cheating death for a second. The woman was on the ground, her arm still in the grip of the bloody mess that used to be a Civil Protection officer. Alan grabbed her other arm and heaved her up.
    "We have to get out of here right now! Come with me!" The woman said something which Alan did not hear, but she quickly understood what was going on. By the station the doors opened again and the two CPs that had just left the square rushed out again. One of them fell from another sniper round and the other dived back in as Fred started firing away at him quickly joined by Alan.
    "Grab his gun!" Alan beckoned the woman but she was already grasping the SMG between her hands. Alan grabbed the other one and they started heading back for the Alley. Fred and Garry had already disappeared around the corner and in the corner of his eyes Alan could see Jenny packing things up on the roof. She would be gone in a few seconds and they would all take different routes back to Station 19.
    But he had to do the hard part. He wasn't alone, and the person with him knew nothing about the city, she knew of no routes or where to go. It would not be easy to get back.
     
  6. Darkwolf

    Darkwolf Tank

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    nice, but one question.

    Can Garry position poeple in whatever position he see's fit?

    :p
     
  7. AJ Rimmer

    AJ Rimmer Tank

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    Yeah but they get real cranky.
     
  8. Sloth

    Sloth Tank

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    holy cow, two updates in one day.
    only read the first one, but this is awsome, looking forward to more!
     
  9. AJ Rimmer

    AJ Rimmer Tank

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    Chapter 3: Underground

    The wailing of the sirens died down only to return even stronger as the two refugees kept running. Alan grabbed the woman's clothes and pulled her back behind the wall.
    "Stay down! If CP finds us we're done for!" The woman ducked back and pressed against the wall until the two officers had cleared the street.
    "It's clear. Let's go." Alan grabbed her arm and tugged her along down the street until they reached a door. He banged three times and the door swung open.
    Alan and the girl both ran in and the door slammed shut behind them.

    In his mind the fighter jets roared through the sky with a deafening scream. He watched them fly past the houses, down the main street. As they reached the departments store they pulled up. The two missiles left trails of smoke behind them as the raced towards their target. The huge blue monster looked up just in time to see death strike. The resulting blast shattered every intact glass window nearby and the remains of the garg collapsed down on a in a huge mess.
    This was the third garg that came through the city defenses in as many weeks. He remembered this very clearly because they were so enourmous.
    His mother and father were both dead. He couldn't recall when or how his mother had died, he just remembered her body was never found. Most of his friends had died, his cousin had come to stay with him just before the military sealed off the city limits. For a time, the aliens were kept at bay, for the most part. Every once in a while a group of headcrabs got inside but didn't make their presence known until the army was already fighting off a group of zombies marching down the streets.
    There are many things the human mind can adapt to. War, famine, deseases, all these can become more or less trivial, a part of everyday life. Aliens turning your loved ones into murderous zombies is not one of these things.

    The military had enforced martial law and after a year or two it was part of everyday life. It became normal to hear gunshots outside the city, it was nothing extraordinary that all ways into and out of the city were now guarded by soldiers with heavy-duty weapons, gun turrets and mile after mile of barbed wire spun across the top of concrete walls. People got used to spending hours in bombshelters. It became normal to see people crying, and to know that everyday you could die. It became normal that the world was no longer dominated by humans.
    Alan could remember tanks rolling down the roads flanked by troops in some nation's uniform, screaming orders and mowing down rows of zombies. Bullsquids roamed the sewers and antlions would attack the beaches which used to be part of the city but now lay abondoned, cut off by the barricades.
    The portal storms raged on for years. Three or four, Alan wasn't sure, but what he was sure of was that those days of unrest, when everyday could be your last by the slash of a zombie or the spit of a bullsquid or even the roaring flames from a Gargantua, those days were bliss compared to what would soon come...

    He was pulled back into the present by the sharp stab into his stomach. The gun barrel knocked the breath out of him. The man quickly pulled the machine gun back.
    "Sorry, didn't know who it was. We heard the gunshots and figured you guys must be headed this way." Alan groaned and gasped for air.
    "We... need... to... get to the... basement!" He gasped for air between words.
    "Sure, I'll take you there." The man swung the smg over his shoulder and another man next to him stepped into his place to guard the door. He led them both down a few flights of stairs until they reached a heavy door. The man grabbed the handle and slowly pulled it open. Inside was a long stone vault shaped tunnel. The man bidded them both in.
    "Hurry up, Civil Protection could storm the house any second!" Alan and the woman walked through the door and immedeately stepped ankle-deep into water.
    "Good luck, Station 11 is directly up ahead, just a few hundred metres. Watch out for the headcrabs and bullsquids." Alan nodded and they started jogging down the dirty sewage water, weapons ready. Alan looked over at the woman, the dried blood on her face was still there. She looked afraid but she didn't show a sign of slowing down or any doubt.
    "Don't worry, we'll be alright." He tried to smile confidentely but failed.
    "I'm not worried. I was ready to die a few minutes ago." Alan stopped in his tracks and checked which way to go next. The road split in two. According to his memory, Station 11 was through the... right tunnel!
    "It's this way."
    "Are you sure?"
    "Yes." He didn't sound convincing but she nodded and looked at him.
    "I'm Helen." She smiled, and had she not had bloody teeth, a bruised eye and a badly misshapen nose she would have had a beautiful face.
    "I'm Alan." He answered simply, and then they were off again.
     
  10. AJ Rimmer

    AJ Rimmer Tank

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    Chapter 4: Across the worlds

    Helen and Alan quickly made their way through the sewer system. Station 11 had sounded busy as they passed under it, probably a CP squad trying to track the two of them down. Not wanting to cause them any trouble Alan had kept going, and Helen had promptly followed him.
    Station 8 was reachable from the sewage tunnel as well, though a almost half a kilometer further down. They had stopped running as there were no sounds of CPs in the tunnel, and so far they hadn't even ecnountered any headcrabs. So far things were looking up.
    The tunnel stank and their shoes were soaked in whatever was in the water. Above them the sound of the city wailed. Occasionally a Civil Protection patrol appeared dead above them through the grating in the roof and they had to wait for them to pass, but apart from these interruptions they proceeded without difficult for about half an hour.
    "Which City did you come from?" Alan couldn't think of another topic and he had to brake the silence.
    "City 9."
    "Where's that?"
    "I don't know. Nine hours by train in... some direction. Where are we now?"
    "City 14, about nine hours from City 9." She smiled faintly and Alan returned it, they talked for a few minutes, fuelled by this small exchange, but soon the both fell silent again.
    Eventually they reached a side alkove which led up to Station 8. Alan carefully peaked into the stairs first, his smg ready. The rusted handrailing was damp and cold under his hands. He and Helen slowly climbed the stairs until they reached the door. He banged on it three times and backed away from it. Both of them aimed their barrels at the door as it creaked open.
    "Alan!" The elderly man in the door frame beamed at him and lowered the pistol.
    "Hey Jenkins. How's it looking?" Alan stepped into the basement and Helen followed. Jenkins closed the door behind them and locked it. The small cellar was filled from floor to roof with crates and drums. Guns and ammo belts hung from the walls and four other men in stolen CP combat vests were standing guard. This was Station 8, one of the main weapon supply depots for City 14.
    "Not too good Alan." Jenkins answered. "Civil Protection are searching far and wide for you guys. Looks like Station 13 went out, a group of CPs stumbled into their hideout while chasing after one of your guys, now they're hoping to ride that wave and come down on the rest of us. But they've been nosing around Stations 11, 12, 17 and 6 for at least an hour and haven't caught any of them yet so I wouldn't worry too much."

    Alan nodded and processed the info for a moment.
    "Has anyone been around here?" Jenkins gave a little laugh.
    "Nowhere near, though I'm sure they like to think they were right on to us." Alan smiled back. Jenkins was a real old-timer. He was one of the few people above 50 who had survived both the portal storms and the combine's arrival. He must be at least sixty, Alan thought, and yet he kept right on what he had done all his life: Gun trade.
    "Mind if we lay low here for a while?" Alan asked, knowing full well what the answer would be.
    "Go right ahead."

    It was a wonderful day. The sun broke through the clouds early in the morning and kept on going all day. Alan stretched up his hand to cover its rays. He stood up and felt the warmth on his face. The city seemed peaceful for once. He hadn't seen a day like this in a long time. He walked down the street and said hello to the few neighbours he had left. They greeted him with smiles and not with low murmured greetings as usual. The wheather had appearentely put them in a good mood as well.

    He decided to go downtown to the park. It was pretty well guarded and a day like this it was bound to be full of people, since the beaches were off limits. He whistled to some tune on his way down there. As he spotted the park he felt a wind behind him, then a sound. It was a sound he knew all too well. It was the sound of a portal rift opening up. But this was different, this was bigger. For a second he though it was a garg teleporting in, but this was bigger. He turned around expecting to see a rift right behind him.
    What he saw he had never seen before and never would again. A portal so big it looked like a nuclear explosion had opened in the dead centre of the city. It seemed to tear away at something. It flashed and suddenly there was a huge crunching noise. Alan saw buildings close to the rift start to collapse and fall down below his line of sight. The ground shook and he lost his balance. He felt the ashpalt under him shake and tremble and then the power died. He saw a group of soldiers standing across the street, not knowing what to do.
    There was a great rumble as the surrounding area around the portal came chrashing down into the big pit that had formed where it had struck. At least three or four football fields from side to side and almost completely circular of the city was missing. Where Alan was he didn't see this. He didn't see the water pipes bursting out of the streets or the houses sliding of their foundation and slipping down into the cavern, nor the people running for their lives as whole streets cracked in two and collapsed. He saw non of this.
    All he saw was the flash. And then he was out of it.

    He awoke to the sounds of gunfire. But not just gunfire, this wasn't the sporadic, concentrated and co-ordinated gunfire that had been the background noise of his life for the past three of four years. No, this, was panicky gunfire. This was desperation and panic. He slowly got up on his feet and looked around. The buildings around him were most on fire. The group of soldiers that had been there before he lost consciousness were gone. The air was filled with smoke and gunfire. There were screams and explosions all over. He stumbled down the street and passed a corner. There he saw a small squad of soldiers fighting off a group of people.
    Alan couldn't see their enemies clearly but they had uniforms that covered their entire bodies and they did not look human. The soldiers were giving covering fire for a tank that rolled up behind them. Although the alien soldiers were advancing on them the tank was soon in position. Alan watched as the turret swung around and the soldiers took cover to not get caught by friendly fire. There was a humming noise somewhere above, then a ripping sound and a horrible explosion.
    Alan ducked behind the corner as the explosion rocked the whole street. When he looked again the was nothing but a smoking crater where the tank had stood. The friendly soldiers had re-appeared from their cover and was now fighting for their lives but they were mowed down by something from above. Alan looked up and saw a huge insect-like flying machine circle the area. It fired off a few rounds at something Alan could not see. It then straightened out and with impossible manoeuvrability it turned and soared past Alan while firing its machine gun at a small house.
    He had to see it. He had to see it. That is what went through Alan's head when he raced up the stairs in the old library that was still standing. The building was on fire but it was big enough for him to get in and out without any risk. He hurried up to the top floor and found a window. He pressed his face against it and gazed out.

    The city was burning. Far off in the distant he saw his home street. All the houses were on fire. Those gunships were everywhere, diving down and spitting gunfire on whatever threat was down there and then climbing up again. He saw huge, three-legged monsters so tall their head were almost up with the gunships as they blasted away machine gun fire on the streets and fired off what must have been artillery rounds on whatever strongholds they could find. Some kind of creature was also wandering the streets like tanks knocking down buildings and destroying anything the army threw in its path.
    These things were literally everywhere. Alan couldn't count them there were so many. And despite these things were ripping his hometown, his birthplace, into shreds, the only thing he could focus on, the only thing that caught his eyes, was the absoutley massive skyscraper that had appeared in the middle of all this.
    So tall it actually reached the clouds, he couldn't understand he hadn't seen it before. It was sleek, without any windows that he could see. Tall, dark and completely smooth it kept releasing more and more war machines onto the city.
    Alan leaned back against the wall and stared out the windows at his home. The flames had already consumed half the library but he didn't notice. He just sat there for god knows how long until someone pulled him up and dragged him out of there.

    He lied with his head leaned against a box of rocket launchers when a noise from upstairs woke him up. Jenkins and two of his men were crouching at a stairwell leading up to the apartments above. He snuck up to them and tapped Jenkins on the shoulder. He put his finger to his lips in response.
    "Shhhh... Civil Protection is searching the house."
     
  11. Edcrab

    Edcrab Veteran Incompetent

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    This is pretty good :D

    Character interaction is solid and I especially like the flashback-style "historical dream" sequences!

    Keep it up!
     
  12. CrazyJeepDriver

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    This is great!
    Do more please, cause I will certainly be reading it :)
     
  13. The One Freeman

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    The flashbacks are ausome
    I WANT MORE
     
  14. Sloth

    Sloth Tank

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    Awsome update, very pleased...
    Love the 7hr war stuff.
     
  15. jonesey2k

    jonesey2k Newbie

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    Class work. Keep it up.
     
  16. AJ Rimmer

    AJ Rimmer Tank

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    Chapter 5: The Universal Union

    The footsteps above kept on moving. For a minute they were dead above them and there were was a dreadful few minutes when not a thing in the cellar moved. After a while the boots wandered off.
    "How did they find you?" Jenkins kept his stare and his gun on the door.
    "I don't think they did, they're probably searching this block by random." Alan clutched the shotgun in his hands and aimed it squarely at the door.
    "What do we do then?" Alan glanced at Jenkins. It was odd that Alan, who must be half of Jenkin's age, tried to stop his hands from trembling, while Jenkins' hands were like solid rock, closely grasping the barrel of the combine rifle.
    "You two have to leave here right away, if the cops find us we're..." The door swung open in the middle of his speech.
    The Civil Protection officer just stood there for a second. He stared straight inot three or four gun barrels and glanced past them to see the huge supplies behind the men holding them.
    "OUTBREAK! CODE THREE-FOUR, CODE THR- Arghh!" The bullet rain poured upon him and buried deep in the cement stairs behind the body of the policeman. The high-pitched alarm confirmed he was dead.
    "What do we do now?" Alan stepped through the doorway to check the corpse and turned around to answer the man by his side when there was a noise upstairs. Two more CPs entered the stairway. Alan blasted away a shot but lost his balance and fell down the stairs. The rebel behind him sprayed a quick burst at the two cops to make them disappear behind the door frame. Alan got dragged up to his feet and back into the cellar while three other rebels passed him by and took strategic positions in the stairs.
    "Cover the door, hold this position!" Jenkins took his place just behind them as the two officers re-appeared. The first one went down without getting off a single shot, the second one managed to bury to rounds in the wall behind them before he joined his two friends at the bottom of the stairs.
    "Stairs are clear!"
    "Check the door!"
    "Get on the radio! Notify Station 13 we need help!"
    "Alan, you okay? Alan? Alan!"

    Alan woke up somewhere damp and dark. A man he did not know was showing him to be quiet. He tried to move but the man had nailed him to the ground.
    "They can't find us down here, we'll be safe, don't worry." Just as the man said this there was a loud thunder and the cave collapsed in. A foot the size of a car came crashing down through concrete and a broken water pipe started gushing it's content over the two.
    The man was staring straight into Alan's face with a look of horror on him. For a second he remained silent and then let out a scream so loud it was almost audible through all the battle sounds outside. Alan got away from him though the man grasped for him in desperaton. The leg lifted majestically up in the air, and the man followed. He was spewered like a hog on the spear-like leg and was lifted through the crater in painful screams and then he was gone.
    It took many minutes before Alan got the courage to crawl out of the small cave of cement and iron and pipes and peek over the edge. What little had remained of the city would not do so for long. He ducked down when an insect-like fourlegged creature started crossing the street. And in that cave he lay for at least half an hour, cowering from the battle chaos outside.
    He tried to think of something good, tried to find a happy place and remain there until this was over. He didn't succeed.

    And then it was over.

    Just as quickly as the flash had come and gone, so had the battle. There were no more machinegun fire, no more explosions. The sound of gunships slowly died down as their engines whirred down to a slower speed and started patrolling the air. The three-legged monsters stood down and started just walking about as if they had been there forever.

    There were only the sound of cries, dying men moaning and fire still ravaging the few intact buildings.
    Alan didn't move until he saw two men slowly make their way down the street. They gazed and inspected the damage with horrified expressions. Alan crawled out of the crater and stood amidst the ruins. He wandered the streets for hours until he spotted a thin but steady stream of people heading to where the square used to be. They had gathered around a group of Vortigaunts that were erecting a big scaffold of some sort. The crowd was scared of going to close, these creatures had been spotted on the outskirts of the city occasionally but only one or two at a time. This was at least fifty of them at once, and no-one knew for sure if they were friendly.

    They were erecting a big scaffold and upon this they then attached a TV screen using some kind of electric charge from their hands.
    The TV screen was almost thirty feet high and displayed a courtroom like scene, battered and scorned through a static camera. Behind the podium a screen by the same design but in smalle scale had been attached. It just barely covered the symbol behind it. The insignia depicted Earth surrounded by bay leaves. The image was that of inside the United Nations building.
    For almost an hour the crowd maintained fixed on the screen without anything happened. Finally, people started filling the seats, or at least some of the seats. A man stood a few feet from the podium looking very calm amidst the squirming and anxious-looking politicians and ambassadors.

    The screen in behind the podium suddenly kicked to life and a logo no-one recognized appeared on it and seemed to make the room go completely silent. The low murmur that had earlier came out with top-notch sound quality through the modest looking speakers disappeared. The crowd in which Alan was standing became equally silent and even the mighty war machines behind them seemed to turn down their volume.
    The logo disappeared from the monitor for a second and then the image of a massive alien body appeared. Slug-like and with what looked like a breathing apparatus attached it jiggled its body before it spoke. And when it did, it did so without a mouth and without body movement what so ever, and yet its voice inspired fear in all who heard it. Majestic and deep, the voice carried through the screen in the UN building in New York to the burning ruins of Alan's hometown.

    "We are the Universal Union. For centuries, we have incorporated entire worlds across the dimensions into our dominion. They are now stronger than ever, just as yours will be. We have combined their technological advances with ours and grown stronger because of it." It paused and heaved its massive body, and before anyone had time to process what it had said it continued:

    "Your forces lie defeated, your cities are in ruins and your armies have surrendered. This planet, and all its resources, are now at the disposal of the Union. They will be divided evenly across the empire. Your world, is now under our control." Another terrible pause while Earth recieved its judgement.

    "While we have no use for your world except for its natural resources, we are willing to share the benefits of our union... Earth will have to prove itself worthy to receive any help from The Universal Union. But when they do, know that possibilites that none of you could have imagined will open up for the human race." Another pause.

    "A combined force, of your military and our defensive technology, will be created to maintain peace and order under our rule. They will keep you safe from the dangers you yourselves have unleashed upon this world of yours." A final pause.

    "To facilitate the need the human race has for a lead figure and to ensure Earth's incorporation into our Union goes as smoothly as possible, we appoint Dr Wallace Breen, who has shown great judgement in allowing Earth to surrender to us, Interrim Administrator of Earth under our rule. He is to have control over all military and peace-keeping forces, as well as manage our interests in your planet. He is to be obeyed. Dis-obedience will be severely punished. Co-operation, will be greatly rewarded. The Universal Unions has spoken!"

    And then a terrible silence fell as the screen die.
     
  17. jonesey2k

    jonesey2k Newbie

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    woo... top quality.
     
  18. AJ Rimmer

    AJ Rimmer Tank

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    Chapter 6: Anticivil Activity

    "Alan. Alan! Wake up! Alan! Wake up! ALAN, WAKE THE HELL UP!" The following slaps across the face did wake Alan up. Helen's face slid into focus. She grabbed his jacket and pulled him to his feet. His head hurt and his sleeve was stuck to his arm with something sticky. The bullet had only caused a flesh wound but he had lost his balance and hit his head against a concrete surface for the second time in as many minutes and consequentely his body had decided for a quick time-out.

    He grabbed the wall for some support until the room stopped spinning and the squeezed his hands around the shotgun offered to him by Helen.
    "Where's Jenkins?" He was halfway up the stairs when he asked her that.
    "He said he had some business to attend to. Don't know exactly what he meant by that though." But they would soon find out.
    They ran up to the first floor where a man they knew from the cellar waved them into an apartment. He was holding a shotgun and the apartment behind was full of rebels, all of them hiding close to the wall, out of sight from the street.
    "What's going on?" Alan peaked over the windows board but the man grabbed his head and pushed him down out of sight.
    "Stay down. We're waiting!" For what, Alan wondered. And the answer soon came, rolling down the street in the form of three combine APCs.
    They all rolled to a stop in front of the house and were soon all flanked by CPs. The City announcement system kicked in.

    "Attention residents, block 13F: Anticivil activity reported in this community. Anticitizens; Cease activity and surrender to local protection teams immediately."
    There was a silent exchange of looks in the apartment as the message ended. Everyone knew that surrendering and being arrested would result in being sent to Colony 31.

    The CPs waited down on the ground for a few minutes, getting ready to storm the house. They checked their equipment and position two APCs in the middle of the street with the third one covering them from behind. A few officers started clearing the streets, raising their batons or their weapons to any citizens who shouldn't be there.
    The team leaders suddenly kicked the other officers into life and they positioned themselves. One of them stood in front of the front door and waited. His team leader nodded and the officer put up his foot and put as much weight as possible in the kick. The door crashed to the floor and the glass windows shattered alla cross the floor.

    The sound of smashed glass went silent just in time for the explosion that rocked the street. Alan was sure an artillery shell had hit them but it was in fact ten or so perfectly placed and timed C4 explosives going off. The two APCs that were closest to the explosion lifted off the ground. One of them was thrown to the side and smashed into an abondoned coffee shop while the other one rose almost eight feet into the air before returning to the ground from which it came.
    It came crashing down into the crater that the explosions had caused and landed amidst the broken waterpipes and wiring. The third APC and flewn backwards but was still on its wheels. It quickly regained control and was halfway through the process of turning around when Alan heard windows being broken in the house across the street. Four or five RPG-crews had just appeared in said house and the APC soon lay on its back covered in flames. That was their cue.
    Alan was the third one to get to his feet. He swung the butt of his shotgun against the window pane and it came crashing through. All over the house rebels started wailing down on the Civil Protection teams down on the streets and soon the gunfire ceased and left way for the few remaining bio-alarms of the combine.

    The silence lasted for a mere few seconds before Jenkin's men filled the street and checked the corpses. Some of the civilians from the houses started stripping them of their combat vests and weapons.
    The PA system readily announced that the entire block was on suspension. Every resident was written off as an anticitizen, and Overwatch troops were being dispatched to restore order in the area.
    Alan leaned down and picked up a chair from the coffee shop and sat down. He watched the 30 or so CPs laying in the streets, being dragged away by rebels or being stripped by them. He watched as Jenkins started talking to his closest about setting up perimiters and barricades, and sending out runners to closeby stations and residental blocks. He turned his face up towards the sky. It was cloudy and smoke was coming up from somewhere behind him, probably from the third APC. And it had been such a beautiful morning...
     
  19. AJ Rimmer

    AJ Rimmer Tank

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    Chapter 7: Barricaded inside

    "I have been told that there has been an uprising in City 14, a city that, up until was known for its stability and peaceful citizens. It is therefore puzzling to me that city so well-regarded would resort to such extensive violence to show their displeasure with the administration."

    "It saddens me to see my fellow humans resort to such primitive instincts as fear. I have been informed of the magnitude of the criminal activites, and the number of Civil Protection officers that have lost their lives, trying to protect YOU and your fellow humans. Therefore, I have had no choice but to send in Overwatch troops to re-take the parts of the city involved in these anticivil activities. These actions are to ensure the protection of those who still listen to reason. As for those involved... well..."

    "The penalty for a crime of this magnitude can of course be none other than death. Without exceptions. It is a waste, I agree, and down-right shameful, but as your administrator I have no choice but to meet this disregard for life and law with the outmost resoluteness. I hope that in time, we can grow beyond these basic biological urges of rebellion, and finally become truly civilized and live together with our benefactors in peace."

    Breen's voice echoed across the house walls, the screen faded to the combine logo and remained quiet. Alan looked down again and kept watching the street.
    His smg felt cold in his hand but the sun was still shining. The wheather was still beautiful, like a farce to what was going on down on the streets of City 14.
    The street was a battlezone. Bullet holes decorated every fasade, every window and the bodies of Civil Protection were scattered on the ground. both ends of the street were blocked off by homemade barricades.

    The three APCs were the base for both of them, and material had poured out of the apartment windows. Chairs, tables, TVs, doors, sinks, sofas even parts of walls had been carried out and used to make a barricade. Still, they would at best slow the combine down, should they appear in force.
    Men with AR Rifles and smgs patrolled the top of the barricades, keeping low and watching out. Snipers were positioned in the buildings on either sides of the streets and the barricades to create cross covering fire. Rocket launchers were strategically places all over the streets. Jenkins had thought of everything it seemed.

    Alan walked down the street and approached a man sitting by a radio.
    "Any news from Station 19 yet?" The man didn't look up but answered anyway.
    "Sorry Alan, I've tried to raise them all day but no luck. We've lost contact with a lot of our stations though. The few that have answered our call haven't arrived yet."
    "Yeah well, I doubt that going across the city heading in this direction is the safest route to take right now..."
    "That's an understatement if I ever heard one..." Alan nodded and turned off again. He walked a few steps but realized he didn't exactly have anywhere to go.
    They were still fortifying their positions, whatever actions they were going to take they would have to come up with them later.
    Alan for one didn't have the slightest idea what the hell they could accomplish. As it were now they couldn't move anywhere. Overwatch was without a doubt already surrounding the block.
    He was just looking for a place to sit as he heard the call from the barricades.
    "Overwatch recon squads moving in! North barricade!"
     
  20. Edcrab

    Edcrab Veteran Incompetent

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    Wow, an update!

    This is really good- I especially like Breen's speech- you did a great job in re-capturing his speech patterns. And a nice interpretation of the Seven Hour War's end with the speaking Combine slug-thing... keep us posted!
     
  21. AJ Rimmer

    AJ Rimmer Tank

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    Why thankyou.:cheers:
     
  22. AJ Rimmer

    AJ Rimmer Tank

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    Chapter 8: Crossfire

    The crisp morning air burrowed deep into Alan's bones. He felt dirty, he was tired, hungry and alone. Two weeks spent digging through rubble had resulted in the conclusion that everyone he knew had been killed. The combine had arranged for food, brought to the people by what little remained of either military or police. The combine soldiers remained on the edges of the cities, destroying each attack by the aliens with such ease it made the Army's desperate fighting for the last few years seem like an embarassement.
    There was much talking in the food line, quiet and in low tones, murmurs about the new visitors circulated. A few voices raised the issue that they had come to save us, that they could help us, that the hardship humanity had endured for so many years had finally come to an end. Those who uttered this loudly was quickly overwhelmed with angry voices about what they had done to the city, and how many people they had killed.
    Alan didn't speak to anyone. He had no-one to speak to.

    The line moved sluggishly forward and Alan warmed himself by one of the fires someone had started byt the side. Across the square from where they were standing a TV screen even bigger than that which had broadcasted from the UN stood against the house facade. People both in and outside the line occasionally threw a glance at it. Some stared at it continuously waiting for a message.
    And yet it suprised most of them when it kicked to life.

    "My fellow humans. My name is Dr Wallace Breen. And I have been appointed by the universal union to be your administrator. I am honoured by the confidence our benefactors in the union have invested in me, and I intend to do my best to ensure they do not regret this decision." Breen paused and smiled."

    "The road ahead of us is a hard one. It will mean sacrifices from all of us, it will mean hardships and hard work, but the rewards, I have been assured, will surpass any of our expectations. I have been shown things, things you would not believe. Our benefactors have the power to make humanity virtually immortal. And I ask you, what sacrifice could be a waste in the effort to achieve this? To achieve the survival of the human race, not for the near future, but for the span of all foreseeable future? To ensure, that one day, the human race may also seek out their true glory, and take their place alongside the universal union? What sacrifice is too great to achieve this? I ask you.
    No matter what hardships we will face, we will face it together, with the aid of our benefactors. The human race has survived far greater dangers and much worse odds since first the synapses in our brain made our species self-aware and got us to crawl out of the dark abyss of primitive instincts, and made us question our place in the universe. The answer to that question, I fool you not, is within our reach."

    Alan stopped listening and grabbed his food pack.

    "Overwatch moving in! North barri-ARGH!" The warning was cut short and Alan saw a body fall down the side of the wall of furniture and rubble. Machine guns had already started blasting off and a few bio-alarms indicated the rebels weren't the only ones suffering casualties. Alan quickly climbed up the defensive embankment and threw his weapon over his shoulder. Six, seven, eight, nine - nine soldiers Alan counted before he ducked down again.
    He reached for a grenade in his belt, and with his SMG still swung under his other arm he grabbed the sprinter between his teeth, yanked it out and tossed it behind him. The detonation caused one more bio-alarm and the resistance took good use of the other soldiers running for cover. Alan managed to get one soldier down by his own gun before the last one fell. As soon as the gunfire around him ceased, more of it came from behind him. Another Overwatch unit was attacking the south barricade.

    Two sniper rounds echoed from the buildings inside the compound, and Alan ran by two men who had been dragged to safety, the red trail which started underneath them lead to where they had been standing. Alan heaved himself up the south wall and had to duck almost immediately. The north attack had been a diversion. At least fourty soldiers were on the other side of the barricade, using what little cover the rebels had not removed from the street to advance. The snipers did their best but they kept getting closer.
    Alan heaved another grenade across the wall then threw himself back up there and tried again, but as soon as he peaked over the edge he got showered with bullets. He pressed hard against a sink and kept low. The barricade around him slowly filled with men who like him hid. The soldiers were not thirty feet away now. Alan saw the snipers re-emerge from the windows. The laser sights quickly found their targets, and in less than a second they all fired almost simultaneously. Only five out of nine rounds hit their targets, but it was enough.
    The soldiers got behind whatever cover they could, and before the snipers even left the windows, Alan and the others had rushed up to the very edge of the barricades and unleashed everything they had against the Overwatch squad. Alan nailed one in the head, then turned to another soldier running across the street.

    He saw the bullets travel towards him in slow-motion. He saw them impact in the asphalt behind him. He saw the man freeze and spin around to see him. He felt the trigger in his hands and squeezed. There was a horrible empty click and he felt the warmth leave his body. He stared at the soldier, now in super-slow motion aim his own rifle straight at him and felt the world slip away. He felt cold, like that morning in the food line. He felt abandoned and alone, like he had when Breen announced mankind's glorious future.
    He watched the soldier, and he could almost feel his hand squeeze the trigger of his weapon, and his would not go click. The soldier's mask got ripped in two and the bloody mess that used to be a human face smashed hard into the ground and left horrible stains on the dry pavement. A sniper sight followed the body until it stopped moving and then swept over the street looking for another target.

    Alan threw himself on the ground and jammed a new magazine in the gun and returned to the wall.
    A few minutes later and it was over. On the ground behind him lay twelve or thirteen bodies, and another rebel was suspended tragicomically in mid-air, hanging from a balcony outside his sniper's nest.
    Alan slumped down against a house wall and buried his face in his hands. He didn't want to see. He didn't want to be here. He didn't want to be in this world, not as it looked. He thought back to that morning in the food line, and remembered something. Another one of those memories that stood out better than the other.

    He was standing across the square with his food in his hands. He was looking up at Dr Breen's smiling face and listened to the final words of his speech.
    "And so, my fellow humans, citizens of earth, I implore you; Do not fear, do not doubt, do not grieve for those who have tragically died, for they have sacrificed themselves for a far greater purpose. They have given their lives, so that we may live, so that mankind can have a future. Remember, we are all in this together. Together we shall work, together we shall make sacrifices, and together, we shall reap the benefits of our work. After so many centuries of conflict between ourselves, we are, finally, at long last, united..."

    Alan remembered letting the words he had just heard sink in, he processed them for what seemed like hours. And as he stood there, cold, hungry, tired, alone and without any family, in the rubble and ruin of what was supposed to be Earth's future, he concluded only one single thing: Whatever future Breen and the Universal Union had in mind for the human race, Alan didn't want part of it.
     
  23. Sloth

    Sloth Tank

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    The awshens contiue!
    Love your battle scenes
     

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