Written by: Adam “ManKorn” Korenman, CC2K Video Games Editor
06 May 2015 / Cologne, Germany / Operation Driving Whisper
“How’s Neems?” I asked.
Chris took a long swig from his glass of iced tea (no idea where he got it. There’s no tea here on base). “She was in India when it all went down. Haven’t heard from her since the cell towers went.” He sighed. “I’m just hoping for now. How bad was that area hit?”
I didn’t answer, but my silence said enough. Scott put a hand on Chris shoulder and squeezed. “I’ll bet she’s alive. She was always a fighter.” It was a little easier for Scott to stay positive. Jenny had been on board the boat when he’d left. Apparently, during the Chrysalid attack, she’d taken on three zombies with a home-made battleaxe.
Sam was about to chime in when the alert sounded. Another abduction.
We suited up, checking our ammo and grenades as we boarded the Skyranger. The engines whined and we lifted off the ground, heading for Germany.
“Europe is a key area for Council support. It is critical we take that area hard and fast.”
I woke up almost an hour after the fight, when Big Sky dropped down and blew hot air across my face. I barely remembered the fight, but the arrayed bodies told the story enough. Six Sectoids, all perforated save the one with the hemorrhaged face. Two crispy Floaters, still twitching as the machine parts caught up to the flesh in the race to be dead. I had expended ammo, since a few magazines were missing from my vest, but I honestly didn’t remember how it all happened.
Sam was sitting next to me, his helmet resting on the ground. “Are you OK? Seemed like we lost you for a minute.”
“Was I hit?”
He shook his head. “As soon as the fighting stopped, you just sat down here and shut off. We didn’t know what to do, so we cleaned up the site and called for retrieval.”
I felt dizzy. “Am I sick? What’s going on?”
“You know what I think?” He scooted closer. “You’re thinking about Rin. Look man, I’m sorry. Two lifts from L.A. and we still have no idea where she is. Could be she made it out during the exodus. Think about it. Her parents had the means. They could be sitting pretty in Arizona while we’re living in caves.”
I didn’t answer. He was right. Ever since the conversation that morning, all I could think about was her. It was only a week into May, but the date wasn’t lost on me. I was supposed to be getting married soon. I was supposed to be preparing for a life with my best friend. I was supposed to be happy and normal and not fighting off an alien invasion.
I was supposed to have her.
Doc was waiting when we landed at Granite Peak. He pulled me aside, letting the rest of the group walk to the armory. He knew I had gone a little loopy after the action and wanted a full run down. I told him…everything. Everything I’d been thinking since day one. It took hours, but we covered every inch of my psyche, until tears were running freely down my face.
“What do you think?” I asked. “Section 8, right?”
He shook his head. “These are normal feelings, Adam. We are all victims of a massive crime. Every single person here feels it, whether they’ll tell you or not. Scott may have his partner, but where is his brother? Sam hasn’t even mentioned his parents. You? You’ve lost your entire family for all you know. Should anyone expect you to just shrug it off?”
“But I’m the captain. I’m the leader.”
“And you still will be after you face what’s going on inside. You’re not supposed to be fearless. You’re supposed to be courageous.”
“I don’t feel it.”
He smiled. “But you’ve shown it. And you inspire those around you to fight harder. Don’t try to bury your feelings down inside. Let them out. Share your frustration with your peers. But most of all, never lose hope. There are entire countries untouched by this war. I’m sure we will find more survivors soon.”
He was right. Somehow, deep down, I knew was right. I left his office feeling better and worse at the same time, but at least I was moving forward. On my way back to my bunk, I passed the memorial wall. We’d hung pictures of Shannon and Lin above a long table. This particular hallway stretched from one end of the barracks to the other, so you had to walk it at least once a day. It made for a somber experience, seeing all the faces of the fallen each morning.
I took a minute to pay my respects before I went to my room. I don’t remember getting undressed or brushing my teeth. All I remember was seeing the bed, feeling a sense of relief, and sleep took me.