I started to my feet, still dazed from the blast that shook my workshop. I tried to make sense of what the hell might be happening. Though my ears were ringing, I felt another explosion strike, this time hitting the building across the street. As I made my way outside, I knew this couldn't be some sort of accident.
Dust and acrid smoke filled the street, pierced my lungs and limited my sight. The factory across the street was engulfed in flames, blazing out of control. The workers flooded into the streets. Bloodied, screaming and panicked, they scurried like rats from a flood. One unfortunate soul was clutching what was left of his other arm, as two more people dragged him from the inferno. I ran back inside my shop, grabbed my keys, and jumped into my Rover.
I had to get home.
As the Rover thundered down the narrow streets of the industrial district, the overpowering sound of machine gun fire roared above me. The bombs had stopped falling (if only for a moment) as the police engaged the hostile bombers. The fight lasted no more than a minute before the peacekeepers were cut down and destroyed.
The bombardment immediately continued. The crumbling buildings and panic in the streets made the journey even more difficult. I kicked my old Rover into 4WD and continued over what used to be a thriving market sector.
A wave of dread washed over me as I approached the residential district. Smoke and fire bellowed from the once tranquil neighborhood. What was once a playground, was now a hollow crater. Not a single building remained unscathed. As I approach what left of my home, any remaining hope was now fleeting.
Searching for movement was almost impossible. The smoke was so thick, it made my own house feel unrecognizable. Suddenly I heard it. A muffled cry from above me. As I bolted up the stairs, the screams grew louder. They were coming from our child's bedroom. As I made it to the doorway, I stopped dead in my tracks. Sheer horror washed over me as I beheld my wife laying there, with a massive steel beam crushing her across the abdomen. In her arms was a blood soaked blanket, but i couldnt see what it was. The pool of blood on the floor meant I had to act fast. I tried to lift the beam, but it was no use. Even if I could move it, it just meant she'd bleed out faster. There was nothing I could do!
While I laid next to her, trying to comfort her in her final moments, she revealed what was wrapped in the blanket. "I couldn't save him," she sobbed. Under the bloody cloth was the contorted remains of our new born child. I already knew what it was, but somehow I didn't believe it. A moment went by, and her grew more and more faint. As quickly as it all began, she was gone. Feeling lost, alone and heartbroken, I laid there, waiting for the fires to take me too. With a violent shudder, the main supports gave out, and the building collapsed.
I opened my eyes, catching myself mid-scream, drenched with a cold sweat. I looked over at the amalgamation of gears and servos that made up my left arm. A not so pleasant reminder of what those bastards took from me. My wife. My child. My fucking life. I reached into the top drawer of my nightstand, and polished off the bottle of Commadore Reget's homebrew moonshine that resided inside. FUCK! I threw the bottle across the room, but didn't get the result I'd expected. A calm, almost soothing voice came from the darkness:
"You know this shit will turn your dick inside out, right?"
I grabbed my sidearm and rolled out of bed, hammer cocked, ready to fire. The lights turned on, revealing the man I was ready to kill. Commissioner Varius Kilz stood there clutching the empty bottle I threw in his right hand. In his left, a bottle of scotch.
"You really should be more careful Virtus. You could hurt someone," he chuckled, eyes fixed on the empty bottle. I lowered my weapon, and walked over to the kitchen, fetching two short glasses and a handful of ice.
"People have been starting to talk Virtus. These "so-called" nightmares of yours have been getting more and more frequent. The whole base can hear you at night. Haven't you been seeing that psychiatrist I referred you to?"
"What, that crazy old bitch? I stopped seeing her months ago. I don't need some shrink to tell me how to keep my head on straight. Give me a job, I'll see to it that it's completed. Simple as that."
"Speaking of jobs..." Varius reached into his jacket, pulling out a thick dossier. "I've got something that might be of interest to you..."