Chapter I – Infamy

"Appeals to the past are among the commonest strategies in interpretations of the present." – Edward W. Said

New York City is one of the largest cities in the United States of America. What had only been a small colony of shacks 300 years ago was now a sprawling city of steel, glass, and concrete – a modern day Atlantis if you were to compare.

This city was one of the major economic hubs of the United States. This was the place where people do business, to make money or just visit the famous sights of the city. There was the Empire State Building, along with taking a stroll around Central Park, or taking pictures down in Time Square at night and watch the lights come alive.

All around, people were going about their own business – going to their jobs, or just plain exploring. It was hard to imagine that not so long ago; the landscape had not been anything like the peaceful cityscape it was now.

After the war that ravaged much of the world and its landscape, the United States had managed to pull through. It was a victory for them, yes, but it left the American public facing a haunting truth.

For too long, they had thought themselves invincible. That no one could stand in their way. It was an arrogant way of thinking and that arrogance cost them greatly. If the September 11 attacks were a pin prick to the heart, this was a shotgun blast through the heart.

The war had been a sobering and haunting reality, a foreign military force managed to penetrate their once-thought impregnable defense network and inflict devastating damage. Thousands of civilians and military personnel alike lay in cemeteries. Families mourning for their loved ones, a wife crying for her dead husband, a child left orphaned, homes destroyed.

It was a great loss...but they would recover. America always did but it wasn't all sunshine and rainbows. Not by a longshot.

After the Russians were driven out of the continental United States, much of the Eastern Seaboard laid in ruins. In the initial assaults, the Russians had targeted key military and civilian infrastructures like roads, bridges, power plants, communication centers etc. anything to give the defenders the advantage were destroyed. At war's end, with very little infrastructure left standing, chaos ensued. Criminal elements saw an opportunity to assert their control over the war-torn cities – forming gangs and dividing the streets into turfs. If that wasn't enough, the CIA had traced scattered chatter about terrorist cells bypassing the compromised defense network and infiltrate the United States through all avenues.

With the amount of domestic and foreign threats surging through, the decimated local law enforcement agencies and the depleted National Guard divisions were hopelessly outmatched and outnumbered. The governors had no other choice; with their ability to respond in tatters and the situation deteriorating fast, they were forced to request Federal aid. Having been made aware of the dire situation, the President had made the difficult decision to place the Eastern Seaboard under martial law which garnered a significant amount attention despite the current state of the world.

Even though the US Military had sustained an immeasurable amount of punishment not seen since the Second World War, it still had more than enough power to restore order. Having gone through an invasion and the contaminated warzones of Europe, the military was done playing games but this just wasn't about restoring order anymore. If they couldn't pacify the population in a timely yet civilized manner, the US could face even more political ramifications added to the fiasco of Zakhaev International Airport.

In response, US Northern Command deployed four Army infantry divisions to subdue the any and all domestic threats under the intense supervision of the Department of Homeland Security while the local government reorganized themselves to be functional again. While the regular units handled the domestic threats, the FBI, NSA and the DHS tackled the foreign cells that had gotten through the cracks.

With martial law in effect and national and international media coverage was centered mostly on the how the Army conducts itself, the three entities could operate with certain liberties and they would need it too. While the terror cells were concentrated on infiltrating through the Eastern Seaboard, there was evidence that they were also coming through the Mexican border, and sea and airports. This forced them to ignore several civil and human rights to ensure national security.

The Army and National Guard tried their damndest to keep the peace but whole affair was far from bloodless. Usually, most of the aggressors surrendered once they saw the heavily armed soldiers and their needs were being taken care of. However, there were stubborn pockets that sometimes ended in a small skirmish.

As ugly as it was, it had to be done and, in the end, the objectives were achieved. The uncooperative locals were pacified, the local governments were stored to an acceptable degree of functionality, and the terrorist cells were exterminated with virtually no leaks and caused minimal panic to the public at large. Some semblance of order was restored.

With the immediate threats neutralized, the United States could finally focus its efforts in rebuilding but this incident and the preceding Russian invasion forced US leaders to rethink and overhaul on how to more effectively and efficiently respond to threats like these. So, in 2022, the US Congress passed the Richmond Act of 2022.

Simply put, the Richmond Act states that in the event of another verified attack perpetrated by a foreign power, all civil, law enforcement, and National Guard entities in the afflicted area are to be federalized post haste allowing for more fluid response. This law is in effect for the duration of said attack plus an additional year for things to settle down before civil authorities are granted control again. Fortunately, this law has not been put into practice.

There were talks in Congress about further expanding the military and reactivating old units but that was thrown out in favor for more civil focused projects such as the rebuilding and improvement efforts. As a compromise, Congress did approve the reactivation of several defunct military bases for home defense purposes but also the subsequent deactivation of several US bases in Europe and the Middle East to save funding…and to lick their wounds.

As such, the decision was made to reduce the military budget from 860 billion to 630 billion dollars and re-appropriate the funds to revitalize other sectors like education, healthcare, housing and community, energy, agriculture, research and development etc. While military spending was significantly cut, it was an understandable decision as the United States needed to rebuild its damaged infrastructure. After all, even with the reduction in funding and the hellish beating it took, the US Military still out-strips all other nation in terms of resources and firepower combined.

In fact, the US has devoted more resources on the civilian sectors and the revitalization of the economy in the past decade that it ever has before. This brought forth vast infrastructure and innovation programs that saw great benefit worldwide.

For the rest of the world, however, it was a different story. A World War maybe over but as history shows, it was just the beginning of a whole other shitshow.

With the world's foremost powers pounding themselves damn near to death and the general order of the world in disarray, it presented other ambitious nations with an opportunity they just couldn't resist. With the US and Europe in a state of disrepair, the Middle East soon descended into chaos and what little peacekeeping forces remained were completely wiped out. By the time the US declared Martial Law, numerous extremist factions quickly rose and overran the fragile governments of almost all Middle Eastern nations and enforced their dominance over the region – it was a total bloodbath.

Soon, the chaos was approaching Israel's borders and she was getting nervous. Given what American support could be spared, the small yet formidable nation prepared for total war; the greatest and probably last fight it will ever see.

Surprisingly, help came in the form of Iran and China.

Not wanting to be swept in the seemingly unstoppable wave of fanaticism and violence, Iran's leadership turned to China for help in exchange for better trade agreements, closer military and political cooperation, as well as the vast oil reserves of the region. China naturally accepted the proposal and began deploying military forces to the Middle East and restore order.

It took approximately 5 years for China and Iran to depose the decayed governments and install friendly regimes to cement their hold on the region. Soon, other countries joined – this alliance such as Pakistan, Burma, Afghanistan, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan, Uzbekistan, Mongolia, Nepal, and Bhutan. Thus, leading to the creation of the Teheran Cooperation Initiative, a geo-political and economic alliance, and its military arm, the Strategic Defense Coalition.

In East Asia, even before the onset of WW3, China was already enacting an aggressive expansion policy in the South China Sea. Claiming islands and erecting military structures upon them, constructing artificial islands, and capturing vital gas reserves. This aggravated other South East Asian nations as China was getting dangerously close to their borders. Thus far, China had ignored demands to stop from the international community and with the birth of the TCI and the SDC, there was very little those nations could do.

With the oil reserves of the Middle East and the gas reserves of the South China Sea under their control along with the 2nd largest military alliance in the world, the TCI was poised to be a dominant player in the world stage.

However, this new development did not go unnoticed in the West.

The TCI's rise to power at an exponential rate threatened the US and her allies' position as the leading powers in global politics as well as their economic security. The TCI now had a monopoly on global oil and natural gas shares that they could use to leverage influence in global politics to their favor which proved to be unacceptable. However, in their current state, they couldn't hope to challenge the TCI directly. The US and her allies needed something to even the odds.

This chance unexpectedly came in the form of a radical new movement in South America.

Following the events of the destabilization of the Middle East and it falling into the hands of the TCI, an energy crisis was feared to occur the oil fields of the Middle East were damaged and could take years before they were operational again. Seeing an opportunity, the resource-rich countries of Venezuela, Brazil, and Bolivia formed an alliance to capitalize on this chance but they soon got the idea of uniting all of South America under one banner – their banner, the Federation of the Americas – regardless of any pact in place.

To accomplish this, a Venezuelan General named Diego Almagro was tasked with ensuring this vision would come to pass. Striking up a trade agreement with the TCI for weaponry and supplies for future friendlier ties, Gen. Almagro began his campaign.

Completely denouncing the Rio Pact, Gen. Almagro launched a surprise and devastating invasion against Columbia, Argentina, and Paraguay. While initially caught by surprise, the three countries fought hard against the invaders and managed to bog the Federation down in a bloody ground war, but they couldn't hold for very long.

This act of aggression was greatly condemned by other South American countries so they sent support to the three battered states and requested assistance from their Northern neighbors.

The US didn't sit idly by though. The moment that the leadership learned of the alliance between the three and their new radical ideas, they devoted significant intelligence resources to figure this out. It took some digging and wet work but it was uncovered that the TCI had supported this in the hopes to destabilize the region, keep the US off balance, and gain economic rights.

Although, there was doubt that the TCI actually expected the formation of the Federation and its aggressive military expansionism.

Knowing that this was a direct threat to her interests so close to home, the US and her allies mobilized for war to defend their Southern neighbors from this incursion while political negotiations tried to find a diplomatic solution.

The US knew that this Federation had to be put down before it could become another potential threat but it also presented an opportunity. With the whole of South America scared and with a common enemy to fight against, it was a prime chance to turn the whole region towards more acceptable policies.

Additionally, South America was already a resource rich continent and it offered further economic gain via the Southern Ocean and Antarctica which is virtually untouched because of the Madrid Protocol. It was highly suspected that the TCI wanted control of those resources to further cement its hold.

In preparation for a planned combined counter offensive, the case officers from intelligence agencies of the US and Canada were sent in to set the stage. Using subterfuge to undermine the military, political, and economic capabilities of the Federation. Additionally, logistical and military support were provided to the allied South American countries to better defend themselves.

It all came to a head when Gen. Almagro and his forces inexplicably attacked the US, Canadian, UK and French Embassies in states he invaded after those embassies offered refuge to fleeing civilians. He ordered and immediate executions of every foreign national and sent their corpses on barges to Florida.

This act generated immense outrage worldwide; even the TCI condemned such actions.

In response to this act of barbarism, a massive US-led international coalition was formed to crush the Federation. While certainly well-trained and well-armed, the Federation's military forces were simply no match for the combined armies of the Americas. After grueling months of heavy fighting, Gen. Almagro was forced to retreat from Colombia, Paraguay and Argentina, and was getting hammered on all sides.

In 7 months, with much of its political leadership in Allied custody and being pushed back to Venezuela, the Federation was almost dead with the last battle held at Caracas. In a desperate attempt to destroy the invading coalition and salvage what he could, Gen. Almagro intended to detonate a nuclear bomb acquired from a secret deal with the Soviet Union decades ago hidden in the city. Not wanting a repeat at what happened 2011, international Tier 1 units were deployed to hunt down the nuke and eliminate Gen. Almagro while the main force drew Almagro's forces away from the city.

It was close but the nuke was disarmed and Gen. Almagro was killed, and with his death, the remaining Federation forces surrendered. The following years saw the dissolution of the Federation of the Americas as a legitimate entity and the formation of the Pan Atlantic Union of States, the reformation of the previous Organization of American States that now includes the European Union. It is headquartered in Mexico City.

The PAUS saw to the massive reformation and improvement programs to South American countries that the US and Canada endorsed which were largely successful and welcomed by the locals as it improved the quality of life there by many times over. However, the US was careful to broker smooth relationships between all states; all had equal rights and stakes with economic growth and politics, and this turned into a successful system.

Forging partnerships and mutually beneficial deals – a stipulation enforced heavily by a very strict inter-cooperation committee – that left everyone involved satisfied, the PAUS began utilizing South America's vast natural resources far more effectively and efficiently than ever before which a portion was used to heal Europe and the world from the scars of war. A global contribution that heightened PAUS' reputation and standing. Future plans were also being made to appeal the Madrid Protocol to construct an off-shore oil rig in the Drake Passage where an incredible amount of crude oil and natural gases were found after a study.

This caused direct competition with the TCI's own stakes in the Middle East and South East Asia which they didn't take too kindly too. The two organizations began trying to finds ways to one-up each other through never before seen innovations and underhanded tactics.

With the balance of power once again stable after Russia was turned into a neutered dog, a new war was born from the ashes of the old ones. The Second Cold War.

History comes full circle.


DATE: MAY 11, 2035

TIME: 10:24:12

In a subway train heading towards the famous Time Square, was CPT Derek Westbrook, a U.S. Army Special Operations soldier.

Derek sat in the carriage with a neutral expression on his hardened face as he twiddled with his phone about certain updates. He was now in his mid-forties and with the years serving in the military, he looked far older than he already is. He was a veteran of many operations and engagements in his long career as a soldier.

A career that was mostly blacked out.

He had just gotten back from his latest tour of duty in Africa and was now 5 days in with his two-week vacation. Normally, Derek would his vacation times in his primary residence at Fort Bragg and getting his affairs Stateside in order. Wake up, check for updates, breakfast, clean his weapons, lunch, go to the gym, go home and shower, dinner, and then sleep. Rinse and repeat with few deviations in between for the last decade and a half.

This time, though, he opted to spend his vacation in New York before he was to report part to Fort Bragg. It was stupid and impulsive but…some part of him wanted to be a tourist again…remember what it felt like on the other side for a change. Of course, he could've chosen different location – a far quieter one at that – but he deemed it not worth the effort as he was already in New York. So, he rented an Airbnb and went about his vacation. Money wasn't a problem for him though; his private accounts were brimming with funds from his salary, hazard pay, benefits from his numerous awards, and dividends from companies he had invested in through sheer luck.

The real issue he had was the minute he stepped out of his temporary abode, he was reminded of why he disliked the civilian life. All they really cared about was appearances – social media, protests, positivity movements, social justice, activism; anything that gets a rise out of people. They make even the smallest issue into the biggest scandal the world has ever scene. There were far more important things that need the attention instead of some guy getting into a fight with a clerk because he wanted to be a "ma'am".

Well, let them bitch about whatever they want just as long as it helped him keep a low profile. You'd be amazed how the grumpy middle-aged man routine let's people right you off as someone not worth it.

If the timing was right, Derek should reach 57th Street Subway Station in about 10 minutes. Derek expected a nice quiet ride…until some kid – a boy no older than 9 maybe – stood in front of him.

"Give me it. I wanna play some games." The boy had been a real nuisance for the last couple of minutes. Running up and down the carriages and just being annoying. Derek had opted to ignore the kind and now, he was holding his hand out like he expected the old soldier to actually give him his phone.

The Veteran looked at the child with an uninterested stare for a few seconds before promptly ignoring him and got back to checking his phone for emails. He had better things to do that indulge some random kid in his apparent demands. However, this just made the young boy very agitated.

"I want your phone! Give me your phone! Give it to me now!" The kid was screaming at this point and repeating his words over and over again. His rants were getting the attention of everyone in the carriage and some were already even filming it.

This was no issue for Derek. After all, he waited through almost 20 hours in insect infested terrain just to kill his target. This little shitstain – and what he expected would happen next – was nothing to that. Just as he suspected, some lady with a fake tan, too much make up, a disgusting hairstyle, and fake designer clothes and bags came walking down in her high heels. A stereotype if there ever was one.

Any sane person would believe that she was the mother and would discipline her kid for his behavior…but Derek had gone through this song and dance long enough to know what was about to go down, and he was prepared. That and he viewed some reddit stories on Youtube to pass the time.

"Sweetheart, what's wrong?" She asked her sniveling child.

The boy pointed a snot covered finger at Derek who had discreetly made sure his concealed body camera was operational – it was something he learned long ago: trust no one. "That man won't let me play games, mommy! I wanna play! I want the phone!"

She shot Derek a dirty look before turning back to her boy. "Don't worry, mommy'll get the bad man to play with you." She said before turning to Derek. "Excuse me, my son wants to play with your phone. You can let him borrow it right? It's not like you need it." Her tone was polite enough but had a noticeable edge to it.

"No." Derek replied simply as he kept a close eye on the woman and kid. Since his vacation started, he had run in with these sorts of people. Not saying that he didn't encounter them before but it was few and far in between. One encounter was more than enough for him to develop a countermeasure which he refined through the years. Basically, being blunt and indifferent to their demands was the usual until they ran out of spit and leave. The bodycam were added when someone accused him of sexual assault while buying some ice cream.

Now, he never goes anywhere without those two and – depending on state laws – his sidearm, a SIG Sauer P227, which he is carrying now together with a permit, and a body armor. He made sure to carry a fully loaded weapon with one in the chamber and five magazines in reserve – the maximum number he can carry as stated in his permits. Of course, he would never use a weapon against civilians unless absolutely necessary.

Apparently, Derek's rebuttal agitated the pair as the woman let out a pathetic snarl and the boy began screaming.

"Mommy, I wanna play a game!" The kid whined annoyingly and stomped his feet on the metal floors.

"Now, look what you did! I demand you give your phone to my sweet angel to make it up to him! C'mon, scarface! It's not like you need the damn thing." The woman screamed in a shrill voice that made people gasp at her audacity.

Derek did not react though. There was a scar running from the left side of his jaw down to his neck; an injury he had sustained after being caught by shrapnel in Caracas. Any other man would've been insulted by what this whale said but not him. When one lived his life and all the sick shit he had to go through, insults lose all meaning to him.

Seeing that her insults failed to even make him flinch, the woman growled in annoyance and made a grab at the Veteran's phone. Having anticipated this, Derek slapped her hand away that made her yelp in pain as he put away his phone in his pocket. Right on cue, the waterworks began. Typical of entitled civilian behavior.

"How dare you! You hit me!" She sobbed as she held her limp hand. "This is assault and sexual harassment! I'll get the fucking cops on you!"

"Mommy, mommy, I want the phone!"

The Veteran looked at the spoiled kid with slight distaste. He never really liked kids – never wanted any of them – he just tolerated them to an extent. What this boy lacked was discipline and a few lashes of the belt…but considering who was his mother, Derek could understand why this boy turned out the way he did.

That's why he steered clear of any lasting relationships – being a parent wasn't for him and the risks involved. Having a girlfriend or a wife while in the military was a very bad move. Something he learned from watching too many of his fellow soldiers get ruined by it. More often than not, those bitches will screw you over the first chance they get and leave you with nothing but the clothes on your bank.

By now, everyone on the carriage was looking at the scene with annoyance at this cringe worthy performance but none dared to make a move in Derek's defense. This was also something he expected to happen; people tended to watch things like it was some play most of the time until the last possible second…or when Derek acts in self defense and then all of them would come in the defense of this woman.

Unreliable and pathetic.

The woman continued to spit useless threats at him before the train's intercom blared up.

"We are now approaching 57 Street Subway Station. We are now approaching 57 Street Subway Station."

Wanting nothing more to do with these civvies, Derek immediately stood up from his seat and walked towards the door with the woman and kid following him and shouting profanities at him. When the train came to a stop, the woman actually stepped in front of him and prevented him and everyone else from leaving the train.

Before she could flap her plastic lips at him some more, Derek grabbed her wrist from the door frame and not so gently pushed her to the side. With the obstruction clear, he and the rest of the passengers filed out of there. The Veteran could still faintly hear the indignant screams of that woman from the platform but he just blocked it out and disappeared into the crowd.

Derek made his way to the check-out stations but before he could get out, he was stopped when someone called out his description. Turning back, he could see two security guards coming towards him…as well as the woman and kid from the train.

"That's the guy!" The bitch pointed at him. "He's the one who stole my son's phone and assaulted me!" She exclaimed as the guards moved towards Derek.

Releasing a huff of annoyance, the Veteran moved to the side and took out his phone and scrolled through his secured gallery for the recordings earlier. Just as he found it, they were already in front of him

"Sir, I'm gonna have to ask you to come with us so we can clear things up." The first security guard said to Derek but he had other plans.

Playing the recording, Derek showed it to the security guards with full visual and audio clarity. Upon seeing the recordings, the woman's smug face turned into that of fear. Knowing that she was found out and her lies in shambles, she garbed her son's hand and tried to make a run for it but she was stopped when one of the security guards she brought grabbed her.

"You ain't going anywhere, lady." He said sternly before dragging them to the station's Security Station to explain themselves.

"I'm sorry to bother you on that, sir." The guard apologized as Derek put away his phone. "If you want to press charges, we can call the police."

Derek shook his head. "Not needed."

Accepting this, the guard finally let him go. "Enjoy the rest of your day, sir." With that, the little bit of entitled drama was over. Derek knew that this was not the first time he went through this shit and it sure as hell won't be the last. Better to neutralize the threat now than give them a single chance to fight back.

Looking at his watch, the Veteran frowned for he had lost 3 minutes with this useless exchange. While it might be an insignificant amount of time to most but for guys like him, timing was everything. Drilled into him by years of military training and experience.

Releasing a silent breath, he checked out of the station and made his way out of it. Upon exiting the station, he looked all around him and he could see people wandering around the streets. Most had their heads to their phones and plenty of foreign tourists getting in some pictures despite the still heavy construction and rebuilding still going on here and there.

Derek did not care in the slightest about their business before he strolled towards Central Park. He wanted to spend the day just enjoying it in Central Park in silence – maybe even walk around the Central Park Zoo; he had a soft spot for animals. Once he entered the park, he bought himself two good hotdogs and a can of coke, and found a comfortable bench in Lounging Rock. There was a lot of people – both New Yorkers and otherwise – enjoying the park in their own way but he managed to find a secluded bench so he could have some peace.

Taking a bite of his hotdog, Derek leaned back on the bench as he looked over Central Park. Seventeen years ago, this place was a virtual Hell pit with the Russians destroying and burning almost every square inch of it before they were finally driven out. Even most of the animals at Central Park Zoo were slaughtered although that could be attributed as an accident. He could actually still spot some old mortar craters the landscapers might have overlooked here and there. The same could be said for the rest of the East Coast.

Even so, after that shitshow, an even bigger one came waltzing in. The end of World War 3…if anything, the war in America and Europe was just the opening act. Now, two organizations were embroiled into another Cold War; but if there was one thing Derek saw was a win was they didn't have to deal with that shithole called the Middle East.

Now, they were the SDC's problem and last time Derek saw in the news, they were facing the same problems all other nations did trying to enforce their will onto the stubborn people there. Just yesterday, there was a car bombing in Saudi Arabia where TCI officials were holding a conference about trade deals.

All in all, good-fucking-riddance.

Taking another bite of his hotdog, he got out a small book and pencil from his jacket's pocket and began illustrating and scanning the terrain for vantage points, sniper hides, ambush positions, escape routes etc. Selecting a random point or person as a mock target, he began calculating the distance relative to his position as well as all of the needed variables to make a sniper shot possible. Central Park offered good terrain as well as the surrounding buildings to conduct unconventional operations. This was a systematic habit he developed long ago to both pass the time and keep his skills sharp.

After all, getting rusty in his line of work was a guaranteed death sentence when out in the field. Think of this as a surprise off-site training experience. While more than capable of Direct Action operations, Derek preferred utilizing Unconventional Warfare – subvert the enemy before he even gets a chance to attack. After all, he was a Green Beret before being recruited into CAG.

Derek knew what he was doing wasn't exactly normal tourist behavior. To be honest, this is the kind of thing you would find a psychopathic murderer or a teenage school shooter would do. If anyone saw his illustrations and plans to commit mock-murder, he'd likely have to have a long conversation with a cop, a lawyer, a shrink, then a judge before being carted off to some loony house.

It was a dangerous habit, yes, but Derek was not insane. If he was, he'd have brought an AR-15 to a mall and shot the whole place up, massacre the responding police force, be engaged in a ravenous shootout before being gunned down with 70 to 100 bodies to his name. No, a crippled mental state presents no positive advantages in a tactical sense; only an extremely dangerous liability. The Veteran may have done things that most people would call lunacy but he was anything but.

…Although that was exactly what an insane person would say about himself.

Army shrinks had pointed out for years in his psyche evaluations that he had anti-social personality traits. Normally, that was reason for disqualification of military service but they couldn't due to his highly efficient and effective performance as he had learned long ago to use what these…medical professionals perceive as an illness into an advantage. There was a hell of a lot you can do when you can just switch off the empathy.

Nevertheless, he has tried minimally socializing with other people – mainly members of the units he served with for the purpose of increased unit cohesion and mission effectiveness. Derek didn't visit his family all that often but he had a few flings with women on the side. He even had a few encounters that broke regulation, like one he'd had about three years ago with a Canadian JTF-2 operator during allied exercises but just like the rest, it led to nothing. Carnal release and nothing more; he was still human with urges after all.

Taking a sip of his coke, Derek continued his observations while enjoying the was summer breeze but the instant he looked up, he saw that he was back in the war-torn streets of New York fighting in every corner. Buildings and trees burning into the night, shrapnel cutting friendlies apart, endless streaks of tracer rounds from machine guns bouncing all over while he and his team fought their way towards Wall Street.

However, as soon as be blinked, he was back in Central Park. Derek looked around for confirmation before he rubbed his eyes. Another thing those Army shrinks told him about in his psychological evaluations were high amounts of repressed PTSD stress – citing emotional avoidance as one of his ways of coping with the trauma.

He knew a lot of guys going through the same shit he was; almost all of them turned to the juice or drugs. Derek absolutely refused to turn to substance abuse for the simple fact that it would greatly impede his overall combat effectiveness. Sure, he was on some very mild painkillers to aid his battered and aging body but he'd be damned if he becomes just another junkie.

In this day and age, guys like him were becoming obsolete. The war dogs of old were being slowly replaced by technology. Next generation drones were being incorporated into the world's militaries for combat and reconnaissance operations, and so much more applications. Still, for all the advancements of technology…the world's governments will always need men like Derek.

Men who were willing to do…what others could not.

In any case, the Veteran shook his head to get the fuzz out of his mind and continued with his mock-planning. He didn't need to be distracted by these pesky memories that seem to pop up every once in a while…even if sometimes, they get to him. Derek continued his observations while enjoying the summer breeze yet unknown to him and everyone else in Central Park, today was going to change the world and him forever.


DATE: MAY 11, 2035

TIME: 10:26:02

In the popular lounging lawn of Central Park that is Sheep Meadow, dozens of families, friends, and lovers were enjoying their time in the summer sun. Parents playing with their children, young couples lounging about close to each other, beloved pets running around enjoying the open grass and playing with young kids, and tourists just taking a load off.

It was a calm and beautiful setting but in a clearing inside the Meadow, something big was forming. Soon enough, everyone had noticed at the strange structure that was forming inside the Meadow. Most could not believe what they were seeing; thinking that the sun was starting to get to them or they had too much beer early this morning. Few had the sense to actually make a quick exit with their loved ones but most had succumbed to the temptation of taking out their smartphones, and taking videos and pictures of the thing.

Some even went on live stream to get the word out to their fans.

When the structure was fully formed, it looked like an ancient Greek or Roman temple at first glance. Some thought that this was just some kind of trick – a hologram maybe – but that was disproven when a few brave souls threw rocks at it and they all bounced off. That freaked the people out even more and the internet was abuzz with outrageous comments thanks to the streamers on site.

Calls to the NYPD were being made to report this but before anyone could do anything more, something came out of the structure. It was big, red, and scaly and the moment the entirety of its body came out, a large roar was heard coming from its mouth.

Anybody who played video games of any kind knew what kind of creature this was. A angry dragon at that and someone was riding it.

The people that had stood there and watched were left in a state of shock as cameras tracked that thing in the air. Everyone just couldn't believe their eyes and what's more was that someone was actually riding it. So engrossed were they of the dragon and its rider, the poor people didn't notice an army coming through the temple until it was too late.

In a span of a few seconds, loud screams were heard as hundreds of strange armed men on horseback and creatures charged at the defenseless families and began slaughtering them.


A few minutes before the start of the bloody massacre at Sheep Meadow, Derek was still planning mock tactics and panning over the horizon when he saw an unidentified structure that clearly wasn't there before began to take form. In slight disbelief at what he was seeing, the Veteran gently rubbed his eyes and shook his head – thinking it was probably tiredness or something. However, that wasn't the case since it was still there – solid and all.

Realizing this was the real deal – as unbelievable as it was – Derek decided that he needed to take some pictures for proof. Stowing away his pencil and pad, he got up from the bench and climbed to the top of the Lounging Rock – the only nearby vantage point in reach. Pulling out his phone, he began taking video and photographic evidence of the structure. He wasn't alone in that regard though as numerous other civilians began to take note as well.

A few seconds into the video and several photographs later, something came flying out of the structure that made Derek finally question his sanity. Needing to see this with his own eyes, the Veteran leaned to the side and verified that there was a giant flying lizard circling in sky. A thousand questions were swirling in his head with all the bullshit going on but he kept on recording for evidence. The analysts at the NSA are going to have a field day with this if they haven't already gotten wind of it in the internet.

Just then, he heard horrified screams coming from the danger site and before long, dozens of people were running from something in Sheep Meadow. They were screaming about help, murderers, invasion, monsters, and Roman looking motherfuckers. Then there were shots ringing out.

That got Derek's and everybody else's attention and people began to grow afraid. He didn't know the specifics of what was going on but this was no time to be confused. He needed to act now and verify the situation and if it was truly dire, notify the local authorities to respond. He had a feeling that they may need all hands-on deck here but the situation must be confirmed before calling it in.

Climbing down the rock, he could see that people were frantically trying to figure out what was going on as the screaming and shooting were getting louder. If this was as serious as he suspected then he needed to get the civvies out now. Fortunately, there were a several cops who had been patrolling and they were hustling to get the people out as soon as possible.

"Ladies and gentlemen, please vacate Central Park immediately as orderly and calmly as possible! We have a serious emergency! For your own safety, please head to the park exits now!"

The people began moving towards the exits – fathers and mothers hurrying their children along as the horrible screams grew worse by the second. The civvies were not moving as calmly as instructed but they were moving fast and hopefully out of danger.

Derek could also hear a couple of cops radioing in that shots were fired and requested for back up and SWAT, and a perimeter to be set up along the South sections of the park, paramedics, and air units to get eyes on the situation. With nothing more to be done here, the Veteran readied his weapon and ran towards the source of all this chaos. First priority was to ascertain the situation: determine whether or not this is some kind of terror attack using highly advanced holograms as cover for a bomb or it was something worse.

Depending on what he finds, he can either let the local authorities handle it and report his findings to Command or coordinate with first responders and call help from NORTHCOM. If need be, the New York National Guard, the US Coast Guard, and whoever else was close enough to respond.

As he ran, Derek passed by people who were increasingly panicked and some with injuries at varying degrees of severity. He observed that most of them look like lacerations and punctures made by pointed and bladed weapons. The Veteran frowned deeper; with the amount of people injured and the shooting, this wasn't your everyday garden variety terror attack. This was something worse.

Just coming up on the E 65th Street road, the Veteran came upon a scene of slaughter. Civilians doing everything they can to escape, motorists abandoning their cars in a frenzy, and what police presence were there were trying to fend off an enemy they were hopelessly outnumbered. That enemy was hundred of ancient-like men with swords and spears on horseback – cavalry vanguard most likely

Hacking, slashing, stabbing, and trampling everything and everybody in their way. Hell, most of them seem to enjoy it as he saw a family get their brains trampled out under horse hooves with laughter coming from their riders. More alarmingly is that he could see a large concentration of unknowns massing just beyond around that strange structure – all of them armed and were bringing in some ancient artillery.

Derek – and his bodycam – had seen enough. This was not a terror attack, this was an invasion. With what he was seeing, the NYPD can't hold this – not with these many bodies coming at them. It was imperative to get the word out to the local authorities to bring in the National Guard and him to alert NORTHCOM of this to send additional ground and air support from military assets in-state.

Mission priority now was to retreat, link up with the police perimeter – he could already hear the sirens coming in – and send word up the chain of command. No use in waiting for them to see it on the news – it could take an hour at least before any of the suits could take notice and form a response…but that would mean leaving these people to be butchered. It wouldn't the first time he left civilians to die for the sake of the mission and survival but…fuck it, looks like he was back on the clock.

A frightened man and child trying to escape the killings didn't make it when they were skewered through by some Roman looking fucker on horseback with a spear. The enemy shouted into the air in triumph at his kills but it was short lived when Derek put two .45 ACP slugs through his pathetically armored chest and head and the bastard fell down in a heap as the horse galloped away in fright. The shots rang out in the air that caused the attackers to momentarily halt their attacks – their mistake.

With trained precision, Derek took advantage of their lapse in judgement and proceeded to eliminate as many as he could and cover the civvies and police trying to escape. There was no time to dwell on the obvious questions slamming into his head. How this happened didn't matter one shit to the him; all he knew that these…freaks had breached the US defense network and are slaughtering civvies left and right.

Derek didn't bother shooting for the riders for he shot the horses first and once they were down; the riders were far easier targets to kill. That's the problem with horse cavalry; once you take out the stead, it was open season on what's left.

Following his lead, a couple of surviving cops assisted him in laying down cover for the fleeing civilians. Derek knew that they may have save a few but everyone else wouldn't be so lucky – not with the hardware they were packing.

Unfortunately, the enemy managed to regroup and their attention was squarely on Derek's. "Withdraw! Withdraw to the police perimeter! Move!" The Veteran continued to lay down fire as the cops ran like hell to the Western exit where a police barricade was set up.

Moving, he continued to shoot at the enemy steads to slow them down before he expended his last round for the 3rd magazine. No time to reload, he had to haul ass out of there now. Derek made a break for it for friendly lines. Making sure to keep civilians between him and the enemy as meat shields to hack at – it was ruthless and outright cruel but survival was paramount for he did all he could now.

Up above, he could see an NYPD chopper coming in with police snipers by the doors but before they could get off a shot, the chopper was swarmed with several dragons. The men screamed as draconic jaws clamped onto them before throwing them out while their rides lanced at the pilots. This forced the aircraft to lose control before crashing into the park; sparks and metal flying everywhere.

Derek cursed at losing air support but there was nothing he could do now. On the plus side, looks like the chopper crashed into the cavalry which bought him and the fleeing civilians precious time. Breaking through the park limits, he came upon the police perimeter. Dozens of cops lined their vehicles with weapons at the ready; SWAT was also on station as well. They were beckoning the civilians to the awaiting paramedics.

"C'mon, man! Get over here!" A cop shouted at Derek, urging him to get to safety. "You look fine, sir, but get to the paramedics. They'll – hey!" He was taken by surprise when he saw the Veteran carrying a pistol. "Sir, put your weapon on the ground!"

"Fuckin' unbelievable…" Derek said to himself in annoyance, hunched forward as he caught his breath. Risk his life to slow the enemy down only to get shot by the people he's trying to save but he expected this. Judging from the shaking hands and sweaty face, this man was not in a stable state.

"Put your weapon on the ground now!" Now, multiple cops were pointing their weapon on him.

Finally catching his breath, Derek looked the cop in the eye with cold dead eyes that made him flinch. Most of these guys were rookies…they were about to get their trial by fire. And for some, this maybe their last day on Earth. "I'm CAPT Derek Westbrook. United States Army Special Forces." He hated compromising his anonymity but there was no time. He needed their attention now and looks like he has it. "Whose your commanding officer?"

There were a few seconds of confusion before one stepped forward. "Name's SGT Steve O'Malley. I'm in charge here, Cap. Now, I ain't got no illusions here. Two of my guys are saying some BS about Roman cavalry chopping up people and I just saw an NYPD chopper get chewed up by flying lizards so what the hell is going on?"

"SGT O'Malley, we're looking at a massive breach in national security." Derek said as he motioned the cop to take cover behind a police vehicle. "A large unknown enemy force has just appeared out of nowhere – best guess is they came through that structure." The Veteran nodded at the stone building sticking out through the tress as he reloaded. "It's a bloodbath there – very little chance of survival. The crash broke their lines but it won't last. I spotted catapults being set up so we can expect a barrage coming in soon followed by a breakout."

SGT O'Malley shook his head. "This whole shit's fucked up, Captain. What do you suggest?"

"Get on the horn and call it in – National Guard, Coast Guard, get everyone ready for a damn fight." Derek watched the tree line at the ready. There were still civvies trying to escape but he could see a lot of activity in the park – the enemy was planning to charge out soon. "Any chance we can get some air units back?"

"No can do, Cap. After the first chopper was brought down, all other air units fell back to safety. Our choppers just aren't built for a brawl."

Derek expected this but it offered little comfort. "Until we get birds in the air, they have air superiority. I'll contact NORTHCOM and mobilize every military asset in the area for support." He observed numerous dragons flying overhead which concerned him of hit and run attacks.

The Sergeant nodded in agreement. "All right, do it. Billy! Get the paramedics and the injured outta here now! It's not safe here!" He barked out before getting his radio. "Dispatch, this is 21 Hartman. We've established a perimeter and met up with a CAPT Derek Westbrook, US Army. He says it's worse than we thought – possible foreign attack." O'Malley looked at Derek who was trying to reach his contact in the military. "Request Level 4 Mobilization of all officers and the National Guard ASAP."

"10-4, 21 Hartman. Request for Level 4 Mobilization has been forwarded to the chief and has been approved. Be advised: mobilizing the National Guard will take time. Over."

"Yeah, yeah, just get them –"



SGT O'Malley and Derek immediately turned to the front and their eyes widened in shock at what they were seeing. About two dozen large and ugly humanoid…thing with greyish green skin. They were covered in piss, shit and gore, and wielded bloody clubs, axes and swords. At their flanks were a mix bag of half human half animal abominations. They were killing the unlucky civvies who hadn't managed to reach the perimeter in time – hell, most of them were eating the civvies in gruesome fashion. Right behind them was a wall of armored cavalry units.

"Oh, good God Almighty…" SGT O'Malley retched in disgust along with most of his men at the grizzly sight. His radio was lighting up with similar reports happening all over the perimeter. "Fuckin' savages. Billy, get the ambulances outta here right fuckin' now, Goddammit!"

"Sarge! One of them horse riders is coming forward!"

Taking cover besides Derek who already speaking to his people, SGT O'Malley and his men watched as the lead horsemen began shouting at them in a language none could understand. "What the fuck is he saying?"

One cop shrugged. "No idea…but I'd guess Latin, Steve. They must really be Romans…fuck."

The horseman continued to shout on and the Sergeant didn't need a translator to know that he was demanding their surrender or be killed. Christ, the Army dude was right – this was a full-scale attack. "Dispatch, get everyone and the goddamn National Guard here now. Fuck, call in the Army if you have to. We're looking at an invasion here for Christ sake."

"21 Hartman, all on and off duty personnel are being deployed now. The Mayor had just been informed and the situation has been verified; the Army National Guard at Floyd Bennet Field is being mobilized."

SGT O'Malley took some comfort in that but he and his men were facing literal monsters here. "Just tell them to haul ass or we won't last long here. Out." He turned to Derek who was talking to the higher-ups and relaying the fucked-up shit they were in to the heavy hitters. Hopefully, they can get here in time to save their asses; he wanted to see his kids again. "All right, men, when they charge, you take them down let them get in range and u." No use in reasoning to people and monsters who want you dead.

Eventually, the cavalryman finished his speech about God knows what and signaled his monsters forward. There was a cacophony of roars and shrieks before they all came charging at the NYPD lines.


DATE: MAY 11, 2035

TIME: 10:32:11

Fort Bragg is one of the largest military installations in the world with a population of over fifty-five thousand active duty personnel and their families. It is also home to the United States Army Forces Command, the United States Army Reserve Command, and the United States Army Special Operations Command.

Its tenant units were the 82nd Airborne Division of the XVIII Airborne Corps, the 3rd Special Forces Group of the Green Berets, the Army Compartmented Element and the Joint Communications Unit just to name a few.

At the compound that housed the 1st Special Forces Command, the Deputy Commander, COL Christopher Summers, was busying himself with the daily workload of calls and paperwork as per his station. A man in his late fifties, COL Summers was a veteran of the US Military serving in the 5th Special Forces Group of the Green Berets. Completing multiple tours of duty before severe injuries he had sustained in his latest tour forced him into a support role back home.

He still bore the scars of what happened that hot afternoon day but he was just lucky to make it out of there and managed to get where he is through merit and dedication.

Taking a sip of his coffee, COL Summers finished reviewing and compiling the last documents to be passed on to MG Brandon Rodgers, his commanding officer. He was about to call in one of the secretaries to fetch these documents until his cellphone rang. Checking the caller ID, he was surprised to find that it was Derek Westbrook, an old friend and his former teammate in 5th Group. He and Westbrook go way back; in fact, the Colonel was the one who trained him.

COL Summers will admit that Westbrook was one of the best soldiers he had ever commanded and owed him a few favors for saving his life but they haven't spoken in years. Curious of what this was about, the Colonel answered the call and he immediately heard panicked screams and gunfire on the other side.

"What the – hello? Anyone there?" He sat up on his chair, wondering what the hell was going on. He got his answer but it was something he never dared hope to ever hear.

"COL Summers, this is CAPT Derek Westbrook calling in from Manhattan. This is a Black Star alert. I say again: Black Star alert. Our defense grid has been breached by a substantial enemy force. Request immediate support. Over."

The Colonel almost dropped his phone in sheer shock at hearing a Black Star alert which basically means an act of direct military aggression was being perpetrated by a foreign power against the continental United States like an invasion. Only select personnel outside the upper echelon of the United States Military could call it in…and members of JSOC were among those qualified. Shaking off his shock, COL Summers pressed a button on his office phone.

"Yes, Colonel?"

"Assemble all base commanders and get me a line secure to NORTHCOM, and the Pentagon directed to the conference room now. Get me some tech specialists there as well. We have a Black Star alert. I say again: Black Star alert reported in by a JSOC operative in Manhattan. This is not a drill."

"A Black – r-right away, sir!" The Colonel could hear the shock in his subordinate's voice but he did his job and there was a rumble of activity going on after the call ended.

COL Summers stood up from his chair and began making his way to the building's conference room for an emergency meeting. "You better be right about this, Westbrook, because it's more than just my ass on the line here." He mumbled into his phone before he heard a monstrous roar from the other end followed by panicked shouts from the cops. "What the fuck was that?!"

"Colonel…get moving now."


DATE: MAY 11, 2035

TIME: 10:37:53

Almost bursting through his office door, Sec. Chester E. Tenner, the Secretary of Defense, made his way towards the National Military Command Center of the Pentagon after receiving a priority Black Star alert in Manhattan.

Just a few minutes ago, he was enjoying a quiet day on the job as the Secretary of Defense but everything was thrown through a woodchipper when he got a call from William Mcintosh, the Governor of New York, basically begging him for military support in Manhattan after an attack. Immediately after that, he also got call from GEN Jerald T. Drummond, the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, that they had a Black Star alert in Manhattan as well. Sec. Tenner almost suffered a heart attack hearing that and realized that this was not the time. Getting control of himself, he ordered all essential personnel to convene at the NMCC and ordered the NSA to get satellite imagery on it to verify the report's authenticity.

Entering the NMCC. Sec. Tenner was greeted by GEN Drummond. "Mr. Secretary." We're online with COL Summers and the Commanding Generals at Fort Bragg." He motioned to the screens.

"Gentlemen, what exactly is going on?" Sec. Tenner asked. "I just got a call from Gov. Mcintosh asking for immediate military aid in Manhattan and right after that, I was informed of a Black Star alert happening in the same location. This clearly cannot be a coincidence so what is it?"

"Sir, I got a call from a Delta Force operative in Manhattan. He called in the Black Star. I'm trying to patch him in as we speak." COL Summers said. "His name is Derek Westbrook and he linked up with the NYPD responding to the incidednt."

"What do we know about him?" GEN Ashton Forrest Quintas, the Commanding General of United States Army Forces Command, asked.

It took only a few seconds before Derek's file was displayed via LTG David S. Howell, Commanding General of JSOC. Almost all of it was classified information but the Secretary of Defense had clearance to reveal such relevant intel. "CAPT Derek Westbrook – Codename: Frost. One of the best and most effective operators in the service. Just completed his latest tour of duty and is on mandatory leave. His service record is impeccable."

"And I know him, sir." COL Summers supplied. "We spilled the same blood in the same mud. If he sent the alert, he has a damn good reason for it. The moment I answered his call, I can hear screaming and distant explosions and gunfire – further supporting his initial report."

Sec. Tenner frowned before one the operations specialists requested his attention. "Sir, we got the NSA on the line. They have established satellite visual on Manhattan. You're gonna wanna see this."

"Put it through." Sec. Tenner said, taking note of the shaky tone in the specialist's voice.

In one of the screens of the NMCC, the satellite visual came on line and everyone's eyes widened n shock at what they were seeing. Concentrated at the Southern end of Central Park were raging fires, a strange structure, and a massive surge of unknown troops coming from that same structure. That raised numerous questions that they did not have a goddamn answer to.

GEN Drummond leaned forward with an unbelieving look on his face. "…Jesus Christ, where did they come from? Several thousand in strength at least."

"The NSA reports that this is already streaming, sir." The specialist reported. "Youtube, TikTok, Facebook – all over the internet. Everyone knows now."

"Sir, we got CAPT Westbrook online. Patching him through now." COL Summers reported while looking at what was unfolding at Central Park.

The moment the call was patched in, the NMCC were assaulted with terrible screaming, automatic gunfire, crashes, and explosions on the other end. People were shouting at the top of their lungs along with in human roars could be heard – it sounded like pure chaos. The second they heard all of that, all occupants of the room and the commanding generals nearly jumped out of their skins in shock before going on high alert. "CAPT Westbrook, this is Sec. Tenner – Secretary of Defense. What the hell's going on there?!"

"Mr. Secretary, Manhattan is under attack by something we haven't seen before! Thousands of them! Already collected photo and video evidence for future use. Advise you to sync up to my bodycam for visual confirmation. Sending vidlink request now!"

Not needing to be told after hearing, COL Summers had his tech team establish a link with the Captain's bodycam and connect it to one of the screens. Once the connection was made, right before their eyes they could see a bloody warzone happening right at the heart of New York City. Combined with the satellite feed, it was safe to say that the Black Star alert was confirmed.

To their shock and bewilderment, however, what they were seeing on the ground was something that questioned their sanity. Instead of a hostile entity they were used to, dozens of grotesque abominations along with hundreds of horse mounted cavalry were charging right at CAPT Westbrook as an NYPD line. One of the bigger ones threw large chunks of pavement and metal towards them as dragon-like things swooped down like hawks to chip away at the defenders – this caused substantial amount of damage and casualties.

CAPT Westbrook fired shot after shot, giving out orders to coordinate some semblance of a defense plan and while the streets were littered with dead and dying enemies, the commanders could see that this was a losing battle. Then, one of those dragons swooped down to slash at one of the cops. To the amazement and horror of the NMCC, the bullets just bounced off the creature's scales when Derek and some cops shot at it.

"We can't kill that son of a bitch! Our bullets just bounce off!" A SWAT officer cried out but they finally managed to drive the beast away.

"The NYPD has formed a defensive cordon around the South section of Central Park but are stretched too thin! Similar occurrences are being reported all around the perimeter." CAPT Westbrook reported while going to cover and taking some potshots to keep up the pressure. "Current enemy strength is unknown – maybe thousands of them at least. National Guard units are en route but I don't think it'll be enough – not with this heat! Requesting immediate military support ASAP!"

"Roger that, Captain." GEN Nicholas Yandel Lowe, the Commander of NORTHCOM, said as his screen brought up a 3D map of New York City. "Currently, the closest military asset we have in area is an Amphibious Readiness Group docked at Naval Station New York and are equipped with a squadron of MQ-27 Dragonfire drones. We can mobilize them right–"

"Incoming! Look out!"

From his bodycam, CAPT Westbrook had to jump out of the way as something big crashed through the police perimeter followed by several more.

"Captain! What's going on there?!" COL Summers asked worriedly.

"It was a goddamn boulder!" A cop shouted out while taking cover…for whatever good that would do. "They're launching boulders at us! What the hell, man?!"

CAPT Westbrook groaned as he forced himself up. "Catapult strike! This position is compromised!" He crawled to a fallen SWAT officer's rifle and began laying down cover fire. With their line broken, enemy forces were charging straight at them. "SGT O'Malley, withdraw your men! Get outta range! We'll hold as long as we can but we need support! Anything and anyone you can send, just get them here! Out!"

The call soon ended and immediately, everyone sprung into action.

"Gentlemen, they need help now." Sec. Tenner said gravely. "Defense authorization: Prospero. Do whatever it takes to make sure Manhattan doesn't fall. I'll call the White House and personally brief the President."

Defense Authorization: Prospero, a provision in the DOD that authorizes the US Military to deploy in-country in the event of a verified invasion attempt. An order that can only be given by the President or the Secretary of Defense. Now, US Command had full reign to do what must be done.

"Understood, Mr. Secretary."


DATE: MAY 11, 2035

TIME: 10:42:07

Docked at Naval Station New York was an ARG carrying the 24th Marine Expeditionary Unit; part of the US 2nd Fleet's Task Force 26, an expeditionary strike element. The ARG was docked at New York for a 3-day routine maintenance and resupply before shipping out for Naval Station Rota in Spain.

In fact, today was supposed to be the day they shipped out but that plan was shitcanned about 15 minutes ago.

In the bridge of the USS Da Nang, a Wasp-class amphibious carrier and the command ship of the ARG, RADM James L. Mitchell and his sailors were watching with horror in their eyes at the slaughter going on in Central Park. Just a few minutes ago, one of the Ensigns reported something serious was going on in New York City and displayed several streaming sites onto the main screen.

What it displayed were hundreds of videos showing civilians being mercilessly butchered by hundreds unknown assailants and…monsters. What's worse was that this was going on at Sheep's Meadow, a well-known area for families to relax; one could only imagine what happened there now.

RADM Mitchell could briefly see a few cops trying their best to defend the fleeing civilians but they too were cut down. Having seen enough, he was about to sound General Quarters and send every asset he had to Manhattan when one of his Ensigns, Peter O. Duncan, called his attention.

"Sir, we have a priority call from US NORTHCOM. It's GEN Lowe, sir."

"Put him through." RADM Mitchell ordered, realizing the gravity of the situation if the commander of NORTHCOM was contacting him directly.

"Aye, sir." Ensign Ducan worked to establish the link which he did after a few seconds. "Connection established. We are online." He said as the image of GEN Lowe was shown on the main screen and he had a grave look on his face.

"GEN Lowe, we have a situation at Central Park." RADM Mitchell reported.

The General nodded. "I know, Admiral. The Pentagon has already been notified. We have a verified Black Star alert status in Manhattan. I say again: Black Star alert status." He said and everyone in the bridge were in shock; this was way worse than they feared. "The National Guard is en route to reinforce and we're mobilizing every available military asset we have in the sector but you are the closest one we have. SecDef has already given us Prospero Authorization and the Governor has been notified. Further relevant information to follow. Get in there now; your boys are the only help they got."

After shaking off the shock at hearing that this was the real deal, RADM Mitchell grew resolute. Someone dared to invade his home again and he and his boys had the privilege of getting the first shots in. "Understood, sir. Spooling up all available units." The call ended and he turned to one of his subordinates. "XO Stevens, sound General Quarter now! I want that drone swarm up and running ASAP!"

"Aye aye, sir!" XO Stevens made haste to the horn as every sailor began coordinating with each other to get the word out to the rest of the ARG. XO Stevens pulled the lever and throughout the ship, the alarm horns were going off that startled everyone else on the ship. "This is not a drill, this is not a drill. General Quarters, general quarters. All hands, man your battle stations. The route of travel is forward and up to starboard, down and aft to port. Set material condition: Zebra throughout the ship. Reason for General Quarters: Black Star alert situation has been confirmed in Manhattan. All Marines prep for immediate deployment and initiate drone swarm activation in support of defending forces."

Even as the General Quarters announcement as being made, sailors and Marines were scrambling into action. Preparing all essential assets for immediate action and deployment. Dozens of sailors arming and fueling combat birds and vehicles, hundreds of Marines kitting up for a brutal fight, and technicians working overtime to get the drone swarm online to bright the hurt on the enemy.


DATE: MAY 11, 2035

TIME: 10:45:11

Being escorted by a team of Secret Service Agents, President Charles D. Jameson was being escorted to the Situation Room after being informed by Todd J. Garcia, the White House Chief of Staff that a Black Star event had been confirmed in Manhattan and he was needed to go to the Situation Room for a full briefing.

The moment Pres. Jameson heard that, he dropped his glass of whiskey to the ground in sheer shock before he almost bolted out the door with his security detail. A thousand things going on in his mind such as how could a Black Star event happen without even tripping one of their early warning systems. Unless there was a new kind of stealth technology they didn't know about, this shouldn't be possible.

Two agents opened the door to the Situation Room and Pres. Jameson was greeted by the other members of the National Security Council as well as several watch teams who were trying to find out what was going on.

Pres. Jameson took his seat which signaled the rest to do so as well and he looked at the video image of GEN Drummond. "General, give me a report. What is going on?"

"Sir, as of 10:28 Eastern Standard Time, we have a confirmed Black Star event in Manhattan." In one of the screens, a satellite feed was shown displaying a strange structure jutting out of Central Park and surrounding it were thousands of unknown unknowns in formation as well as several ancient looking artillery pieces. In another screen showed dozens of live stream videos and news feeds detailing the massacre that happened there and the current battle being waged. "These sources are confirmed by the NSA's best analysts as well as reliable eye witness accounts. This is the real deal, sir."

"Reports say that the epicenter of the attack was in Sheep's Meadow and the enemy seems to be massing for a breakout." Sec. Tenner said. "Sheep's Meadow is a popular site for families to relax…judging by those videos, civilian casualties will be enormous."

All of it horrified Pres. Jameson as he had no idea what to think at this point. "My God…h-how did they get past our defenses? How could that large of a force go undetected?!" Even though he was confused at the sheer absurdity of it all, his mind wanted to get to the bottom of this and bring this chaos to a stop.

"Unknown at this time, Mr. President." Sec. Tenner said. "But we can determine how they breached our defenses later; for now, we must act. Air and Army elements of the New York and New Jersey National Guard units are being deployed as we speak and will be on scene. ETA: 5 minutes but our men on the ground fears that it won't be enough. Gov. Mcintosh has already called asking for immediate military aid."

"NORAD reports no breach us the North American airspace, sir – they triple checked it. Our PAUS counterparts say the same – nothing." GEN Drummond reported. "Our defensive networks were never breached and our intelligence agencies received no word about suspicious foreign hostile movements. This is something else, Mr. President."

"Sir." Mr. Garcia called out. "I have the representatives of PAUS on the line. They're asking what's going on in New York."

Pres. Jameson rubbed his temples; this was not how he envisioned his day would go. "Tell them we're trying to find out the answers ourselves but recommend that they evacuate all of their consulates in Manhattan. If not possible, barricade themselves within their buildings. The NYPD will help reinforce them if need be." Mr. Garcia nodded and proceeded to inform the PAUS representatives before the President turned back to the Council. "What are our options?"

"An immediate military response, sir." GEN Drummond responded without delay. "NORTHCOM is already mobilizing all military assets in the sector as well as several drone squadrons in the defense. McGuire AFB is already scrambling drone and fighter squadrons to regain air dominance over the island. Gov. Mcintosh has agreed to enact the Richmond Act and temporarily federalize all civil entities until the situation has been resolved."

This course of action weighed heavily on the President but for the sake of the people, he knew that it must be done. Every second he spends hesitating, more people were being put to the sword literally. "You have my full authorization, gentlemen." Pres. Jameson said in a grave tone. "Do whatever is necessary and defeat these invaders – we'll figure out the rest after. Sec. Tenner, declare all military forces in CONUS to DEFCON 1. We cannot take any chances now." He then turned to the White House Chief of Staff. "Mr. Garcia, inform our PAUS allies that an enemy capable of breaching our defense network is attacking. Recommend they mobilize all military forces in anticipation."

Only once had the US had ever needed to go DEFCON 1 and it was when the Russians burned through the Eastern Seaboard. Now, with an enemy that can somehow breach all of their highly advanced security measures and no way to know if and when another attack could occur, Pres. Jameson had no other choice but to declare such a state of readiness.

"Understood, Mr. President."

"Let's hope to God our men in Manhattan can hold until help comes."


DATE: MAY 11, 2035

TIME: 10:49:21

The streets of Southern Manhattan were a full-blown warzone. The buildings and streets closest to Sheep's Meadow were peppered with boulders by enemy artillery causing significant damage. Fires, crashes, and explosions rocked the island to its very foundations. The civilians were mostly evacuated from the area but not everyone made it to safety. The poor souls left behind this hell were either trying desperately to escape…or were cut down by these murderous savages.

New York's emergency services were powerless against this kind of opposition. The NYPD was fully mobilized and trying their best to contain the growing situation but they were simply outmatched by the sheer weight and animalistic ferocity of the attackers. Various news teams were trying to cover this sensational story for the world by their choppers couldn't get in because of those dragons attacking everything in the air and ground.

Now, pushed back to Amsterdam Ave., CAPT Derek Westbrook barely managed to dodge an incoming barrage of fire bombs from a few of those diving dragons…however a few of the cops left with him were frying. They were thankfully out of those catapults' range but now there was this aerial bombing. Their agonizing screams were drowned out by the battle currently being waged.

Taking cover behind an abandoned car with what's left of the initial police perimeter, Derek reloaded his salvaged M4 with a fresh mag. He was bloodied all over; bruises and lacerations covered his body after having a few close calls in the retreat but was still combat ready. Not wasting anymore time, he resumed fire on the oncoming enemy force.

"Dispatch, this is 21 Hartman! We're getting slaughtered out here!" SGT O'Malley roared into his radio – not looking too good himself. "Where the hell's the National Guard goddammit! I lost over half of my guys!"

"21 Hartman, just hold on. The National Guard are only a few minutes away. Just hold on for a little longer."

Fed up with this, the Sergeant throw his radio into the enemy crowd in frustration. "Fuck! Just keep shooting you bastards!"

Derek could understand SGT O'Malley's frustrations – he really did – for he was in these kinds of seemingly hopeless encounters more times than he could count and he also understands that these cops weren't used to this. However, he had to agree that their current predicament was getting grimmer.

He was down to his last 2 magazines for the rifle and no more for his pistol. Police reinforcements did link up with them but those dragons took most of them out so now, they were only less than 2 dozen cops trying to hold the line on this side. Derek feared that they'd be overwhelmed soon or be surrounded once the enemy force broke through the adjacent streets.

If that happens and when they run out of ammunition, this fighting will dissolve into a melee where the enemy had the distinct advantage.

Derek downed another one of this pig looking things before mowing down several infantry troops. Over the radio, he could hear the other perimeters already failing and the one to their North was close to breaking. They were in danger of being flanked; time for a tactical withdrawal to keep the enemy to their front where they have a fighting chance.

"SGT O'Malley, we need to retreat!" Derek shouted over. "We're about to be flanked!"

"I know!" The cop put three into the chest of a charging cavalry man with impressive accuracy. "Okay, we're pulling out! Keep them back 'til we hit West End Ave. Hopefully, we'll meet up with the National Guard on the way!"

"Got it, Sar – holy shit! Those flying lizard things are coming back!" One cop pointed to the skies. Derek and SGT O'Malley looked up to see about 6 dragons coming in hot and ready to drop their ordnance on their heads.

"Everyone, take cover!" With no time to waste, Derek pushed the Sergeant to the ground before their position was set ablaze. With the dragons pulling away, the Veteran saw that the enemy had already regrouped and charging at them yet again. "Get your asses up! The next wave's coming!"

The cops regained their bearings after the dragon sortie and began laying down fire to hold off the next wave. However, none of them noticed that one of the cars they were using as cover was on fire. The funny thing about cars is they don't explode when they're shot, crashed, or thrown off a cliff – that stuff only works in Hollywood. If you puncture the fuel tank and set the gas on fire, the car will burn but it won't explode. The only way for a vehicle to explode is it either had ordnance on board or the fuel tank being heated up to build up pressure…and with nowhere the pressure to escape…

Derek realized that fact too late when a car near them suddenly exploded; sending molten slag and white-hot metal in every direction. The Veteran was saved from a gruesome death as he was the farthest away from the explosion but he was by no means uninjured; his body armor took most of damage but a few still managed to rip right through his torso and legs – a particularly big one managed to pierce his abdomen as he was sent down by the blast wave.

Those with him weren't so lucky; the closest to the explosion were set ablaze and shredded to bloody chunks by the flying metal. Most had a dozen pieces of metal lodge into their bodies and some had their arms and legs sheared off.

The Veteran was halfway into shock but he fought to stay conscious; his vision was foggy – the concussive blast must've rocked him bad. Looking over to his compatriots, he could make out their mangled bodies in the blur. Their screams of agony echoing in his bleeding ears – one of his eardrums may have burst open. One poor bastard was guillotined completely. To his left, he saw SGT O'Malley coughing up blood – trying to keep his steaming guts in while his right leg hanging on by a thin strip of meat.

It was a stupid and obvious oversight on Derek's part – he should've seen it coming – but this was not the time to berate himself. He was fucked up and hurting bad but with the with the enemy bearing down on them, he didn't have a choice. The Veteran shakily reached for SGT O'Malley's pistol and took aim. With his mind in the fritz, his accuracy was shot but he kept firing. Trying to keep them at bay and hopefully killing a few.

Every move he made burned like hell; pieces of metal and glass in his body tearing away at even the faintest flinch but he fought through it. Anything to buy themselves a few extra seconds for help to arrive.

Derek was sure he eliminated 5 hostiles before he expended the last of his ammo. The enemy troops finally figured out the he was out and roared as they charged right at him; swords, spears, and teeth to bear. If this was the end, the only regret the Veteran had was he didn't have a grenade to pull.

However, before the hostiles could rip them apart, assistance came in the form of a swarm of drones. Coming down from the sky by the hundreds, Derek could faintly see Dragonfire drones raining down hate on the attackers. The drone swarm made quick work of the hostile force and routed what was left. In the sky, the drones forced the dragons to retreat back to Central Park.

Hearing vehicles coming up to his rear – recognizing the engines as friendly LATVs – Derek felt relief that reinforcements finally came and he collapsed to the ground in exhaustion.

The drones were still scouring the area as the lead vehicle stopped just a few feet from the downed men and a squad of fully armed National Guardsmen came towards their position.

"Jesus…medic! Quick, get these guys some medical attention!" The lead Guardsmen ordered as he neared a crouching Derek. "Sir, are you CAPT Derek Westbrook?" When he received a little nod from the severely injured Veteran, he continued. "1LT Matt Hummel – 1st Battalion, 69th Infantry Regiment, New York National Guard. You guys did good, sir. We'll take it from here. Mike, evac these guys outta here!"

Derek could feel his body screaming in pain as he was loaded onto a stretcher. He wanted to stay and fight but in the condition he was in, his combat capabilities were severely compromised. As much as he hated to admit it, he was out of the fight. Not the first time and certainly not the last though.

"Command, this is Yankee 3-2. We've linked up with CAPT Westbrook and the Western police perimeter. They're fucked up and being evaced out. /Break/. Enemy formation shattered and in full retreat. We're ready to bring it to 'em. Over."

"Roger that, Yankee 3-2. Additional aerial support in on the way but until they arrive, those Dragonfires are all you've got. Be advised: the 24th MEU is entering the AO now. We are re-tasking those drones to their support. Over"

1LT Hummel nodded as the medical truck pulled away from the combat zone and the Dragonfire swarm began pulling away to support the incoming Marines. "Confirmed. Yankee 3-2, out. All right, people! Let's hustle up – time to take it to 'em!"

On his command, the armored convoy began their push towards Central Park – gunning down anything and anyone that got in their way. With the National Guard arriving just in the nick of time to reinforce the crumbling NYPD and with additional drone and Marine support coming in, the odds were now squarely in the US' favor.

Time for Round 2.