The advancing army paraded through the captured neighborhoods federal forces abandoned on the fringes of the city’s borders. The conquerors were a patchwork of rebellious armed factions unified under the auspices of a common organization. The federal army the were up against enjoyed a marked advantage in firepower, but even the most cutting edge weapons in their arsenal were rendered impotent by soldiers who had no inclination to fight and die for their careerist commanders or the regime they served. Most had never really been soldiers just listless youths who sought the relative safety of the military as a provider. When the militants marched through the fire dropped on them from semi-autonomous machines that stalked the sky the divisions facing retreated behind the blast walls that surrounded the kingdom of gleaming steel towers looming at the water’s edge. Out of either fear or perhaps unspoken sympathy, many of the troopers left their government issued supplies behind for the rebels to scavenge.
They briefly halted their advance to rest and gathered up the loot. They occupied the neighborhood. There seemed to be a lot of support for the cause of militias. Whether it was out of fear or genuine gratitude to the self-proclaimed liberators, people opened up their homes and offered up gifts to the soldiers. While others hid inside their boarded-up homes and tried to go unnoticed.
Nate was a 24-year-old “insurgent.” Like many of his comrades he was an ex-soldier and just like most of the others, he was drawn from the vast wasteland between the shining seas. He was an impassioned if a somewhat hard headed young man who firmly believed in the efficacy of action over dialogue. He would not be lulled into thinking he could appeal to the better nature of the overlords who left his country a decaying hollowed husk. His limited life experienced only one truth had been consistently reinforced if you don't destroy your enemies they will destroy you.
He wasn’t relishing the down time, especially not with the objective of their campaign so close. He started longingly at the glowing skyline, imagining when they’d break through the wall and reach the shores of Lake Michigan. That was when he could relax. He was standing with a growing crowd watching a massive fireworks display happening over the lake. The pyrotechnics show filled the sky with dazzling flashes of light and color that drowned out the sounds of the slaughter just beyond the concrete barrier.
“Wha the fuck are they doing?” Muttered Olsen as he took a puff from a home-rolled cigarette.
“Celebrating losing I guess,” Paxton answered.
“Spectacles like these are weapons of distraction always used by despots in times of desperation.” The stoic commander flashed a small grin. “Some of them have realized they’re already dead they just don’t want the rest to figure it out just yet.”
In a previous life, Commander Dyson had been a lieutenant colonel in the Marine core. 25 years of military service gave him more combat experience than just about any other man they had under arms. Even though he was more than twice the age of the average fighter, he embraced his role as a leader in combat. The boys had great admiration for him and had an unshakable confidence in his leadership. He stayed calm under fire, no matter how close the shell fell. More than a few fighters contributed his guidance to surviving their first combat experience with both mind and body still intact.
“You might not appreciate it now, but one day this is going to be the history your grandkids read about in school. The battles we fight today are part of a long continuum in the struggle for true freedom as ordained by God Almighty.”
Dyson stepped out of the crowd and gazed up at the sky. “Be grateful you’re going to serve in a battle so pivotal the new testaments handed down are sure as shit going to have a passage or two about it.”
“New Testaments?” Nate asked.
“That’s right,” Dyson said “The third testament. I started compiling it myself. Just like the new testament in the bible the third testament will take place in a dying empire that was once a glorious republic and just the same it will ultimately be about renewal.”
“Doesn't Jesus have to write that or something?” Nate asked
Dyson ignored the sarcasm. “Jesus didn’t write a damn thing in the bible. It was all written later, sometimes centuries later. All of its stories, stories meant to guide a people towards a higher purpose and to keep them right. And I believe in my heart of hearts what we do here will mean just the same to people.”
General Meyers of the US Army was charged with keeping order in Chicago, and his sub-par performance hadn’t gone unnoticed by his superiors. Meyers came out of the academy. He knew how to press his uniform for formal occasions and which side the salad fork went on, but he wasn’t personally familiar with the grittier realities of urban warfare. He rationalized that this somehow gave him an edge, that a lack of empathy for the grunts on the ground would help him make decisions and give orders more sympathetic commanders might not have the guts for. His tough facade was just that.
Paradoxically the rapid advance of the insurgency on the ground left Washington too little time to find a replacement, so his monumental incompetence had left his job safe for the time being. The General had spent more time trying to hide the deteriorating situation rather than rectifying it. He had far more expertise in pushing off blame and covering up his mistakes than in the intricacies of urban warfare.
The armchair general was in a precarious situation, but he had one last trick up his sleeve. He set up a temporary headquarters on the 95th floor of the Hancock building. The luxurious enclave in the sky was not only a good vantage point but was a suitable lounge for hosting his honored guest Ryan Leonard, CEO of the military contracting firm Urban Security Group. They had been bloodied up bad by the insurgency and were demanding the military take steps to stop their stock prices from falling any further. Tonight Meyers planned on killing two birds with one stone.
The General wasn’t in particularly good form by the time his honored guest arrived. He hadn’t been able to keep himself away from the hefty stocks of top shelf liquor. His cheeks were burning red, and his blue eyes were glazed over, but he insisted in a slightly slurred speech he was still able to play host.
Meyers was slumped down in a plus armchair. His eyes fluttered as he struggled to stay awake.
“Coffee,” he murmured.
“Sir?” his aide replied.
“Coffee get me coffee,” Meyers slurred.
“Right away sir,” the aide snapped before rushing off.
Meyers slowly sipped the thick black liquid. “Shit, I overdid it,” he lamented. “This isn’t going to cut it. Get me some Adderall,” he ordered.
The pharmaceutical solution was far more effective, and Meyers was back up in time to greet Leonard.
The 43-year-old executive was tall with an athletic build. He cut a nice figure in his designer suit which played no small part in his meteoric rise. Outside of being conventionally handsome though he was an effective corporate officer who worked tirelessly towards finding solutions to any of the company’s revenue and management problems. He carried himself with confidence and never appeared flustered in any situation. His poise and approach kept the board of directors convinced he always had a plan.
After saying hello and a bit of small talk, the General invited the CEO to sit in an identical plush chair next to his. It was a clear night, and visibility was good enough to see for miles. They settled in their respective thrones while waiters filled their low ball glasses.
“What a view,” Leonard remarked.
“It really is,” Meyers agreed. “And tonight is perfect for the show we’re about to put on.”
“Yeah, what’s this big surprise you keep talking about?” Leonard asked.
“Washington sent me some new ordinance that’s going to make those fireworks look like fucking bottle rockets,” Meyers said with a mischievous smile.
“That’s fantastic,” Leonard said with elation. “What kind of ordinance are we talking about here?”
Meyers took a slow sip from his glass. “Well technically I can’t tell you what it is, but I can promise you we’re going to incinerate these assholes once and for all.”
“Oh shit that’s incredible new man,” Leonard said. “I’ve got to admit I was starting to get nervous about these guys.”
Meyers looked down at his watch. “Oh shit, it’s about to start.”
Multiple fireballs appeared in the sky before fragmenting like a meteor into several smaller pieces and plummeting to earth. A few seconds later hot white flashes lit up the night, and several columns of fire burst up from the ground.
“Oh shit!” Meyers cheered like a frat boy at a football game.
“We got em motherfucker we got them!” Ryan exclaimed.
They clinked their glasses and watched the flames peak. The burning fires illuminated the thick, acrid smoke rising into the atmosphere. The fires merged into a single inferno that burned as bright as the daytime sun. They watched with great satisfaction as the fire they unleashed consumed their enemies. Meyers finished his drink and turned to Ryan. “Have you eaten yet?” He asked.
By morning the fires were still burning. Charred corpses littered the streets; their flesh had completely melted away leaving behind only carbonized bone. Asphalt became bubbling tar that choked the air and filled the lungs with poison. Nate watched in silence as parents tried in vain to ease the pain of their immolated children, who had been burnt beyond all recognition.
“I’m gonna kill these motherfuckers,” he whispered.
“Get saddled up we’re going to the wall!” Dyons declared as he marched out of the rubble. The men cheered and cocked their guns.
“They’re paying for this shit today!” Dyson roared. “And whoever brings me General Meyers will have the honor of castrating the piece of shit!” The troops were rallied, their moral unbroken, their murderous rage justified.
“Fuck yeah,” said Nate shouldering his rifle. He went after Dyson when someone called out to him.
Nate turned around a boy, probably no older than 15 was running after him. “I want to go to!” The boy shouted.
“We’re going to war kid,” Nate said brushing him off.
“I Know I want to kill the fuckers who did this!” The boy growled. "I want to kill everyone behind that wall!" Nate didn’t reply. He looked the young lad up and down. He was small and well on the skinny side, but he had heart.
“Let’s get you a gun,” said Nate.