months after the start of the Final War
skies over the State of East Tennessee were filled with scores of
clashing jet fighters all caught up in a deadly aerial ballet.
Missiles streaking towards targets and glowing cannon rounds flying
through the bright daytime sky were all elements of the dance. Most
failed to find their prey but dozens of explosions still littered the
blue sky like fiery, evil roses that quickly evaporated to smoke.
Aerospace Force Captain Richard Douglas none of the other fighters he
shared the sky with mattered, his universe had narrowed to a set of
computer generated symbols displayed on his helmet visor with
different colors showing which was friend or foe. His goal was to out
think the Draka pilot he pursued and put either a missile or cannon
round through the snake's plane.
Douglas and his opponent desperately tried to out maneuver each other
time for both lost most of its meaning. Its only relevant factors had
to do with fuel consumption and whether or not there would be enough
for the other to return to base once the battle was over. Still
though, part of Douglas' mind had time to appreciate his enemy, he or
she was an excellent pilot and if numerous immutable factors could be
different he'd love to buy the other a beer and discuss their mutual
love of aerial combat.
both practical and those clouded with passion, made centuries before
prevented any sort amicable encounter between the two enemies. One of
them believed they were superior to all other human beings and were
entitled to control all aspects of their lives while the other was
defending his homeland from a ruthless invader. Circumstances
demanded that one of them had to die, it didn't matter whether it was
a from small mistake or simple fate and on that occasion it was the
Draka who died.
generations of breeding and years of training for the briefest moment
in time the enemy pilot slipped into the center of Douglas' target
sight allowing complex software to react far swifter than any human.
The cannon on his plane burped six explosive rounds that sped across
the sky to pierce the Draka's starboard engine and fuel tank.
Everything happened so fast that the Draka never realized that she
ceased to exist.
Six,” Douglas screamed over the radio, “dead snake falling, I
have a clear path to the transports.” The Draka fighters were not
the real objective, they were providing air cover for six heavy
vertical landing and takeoff cargo planes that were attempting to
unload a brigade-sized unit. Even as other American fighters
continued to dance with the enemy, Douglas armed the four sledgehammer
missiles that his plane carried in recessed pods along the fuselage.
the Draka considered themselves artists when it came to war they had
not provided their VTOL transports with much in the way of defensive
armaments. All they had were two light cannons positioned above and
below the fuselage. This provided Douglas a relative clear path to
come straight in at the hovering beasts. Two sledgehammer missiles
sped away from Douglas' plane and impacted the closest two
transports, both of the weapons reached their targets and impacted
near one of the engines used for hovering leaving behind a small
secondary munition that caused even more damage before exiting out
the other side.
genius of the sledgehammer missiles were their ability to engage
multiple targets, because once they thoroughly destroyed the first
two transports they went on to hit two other hovering giants. Luck
was with the Americans that day because three of the four destroyed
Draka transports crashed on top of the first two that had already
landed and were in the process of unloading troops and equipment. In
the space of twenty seconds an entire Chiliarchy of forty-five
hundred troops was destroyed. The two other transports attempted to
flee the growing disaster but other American jet fighters made quick
work of them.
had little time to enjoy his heroics, just as he turned for home he
heard and felt an explosion on the port side of his aircraft.
Computer generated graphics on his helmet visor told him the engine
on that side of his craft had suffered a massive structural failure.
Again computer software came into play realizing that the plane had
no chance of making it home, that made its number one priority the
survival of the human pilot. With only a couple of seconds to
prepare, Douglas was ejected from his aircraft. When his parachute
deployed Douglas took some satisfaction that American skies in his
area, were for the moment, free of enemy aircraft.
problem he realized was that the initial Drakan biological sneak
attack on Alliance and American leadership had greatly hamstrung
their efforts. The resulting period of chaos the Alliance suffered
through was the main reason the Draka had the strategic advantage.
Alliance and American forces could still win battles but with the
Draka leadership intact, they had a big edge in logistics and
coordination of forces.
hit ground in a large meadow, knowing that while the brigade-sized
Draka force was effectively destroyed there were certainly survivors
skulking in the area he immediately removed his parachute harness and
ran for the cover of the wood line. He knew that the Aerospace Force
pararescue troopers from his base and any Army Rangers in the area
would be looking for him but in the meantime he had to avoid enemy
contact, he was neither equipped nor trained to handle them.
plans Douglas had of staying concealed until he was rescued were
rendered moot just as he reached the trees. He heard the ghoul first,
the sounds of its panting and bounding through the woods echoed like
thunder. While the warning was nice, it was difficult to get an idea
which direction the genetically engineered abomination was coming
from, and Douglas knew that did not bode well for his survival.
as Douglas pulled out his pistol he caught sight of the creature. It
had stopped twenty meters away and was starting to circle him, images
and reports of the ghouls chomping down on humans danced inside
Douglas' mind. Supposedly, the Draka had engineered the ghouls with a
near human level of intelligence despite its appearance of an overly
large baboon with a dog's head.
on you piece of shit,” Douglas yelled at the thing. “You want to
eat me, come and try.” The creature just growled but then jumped
towards Douglas with its destructive intentions quite clear. All
Douglas could do was raise his pistol and squeeze off several shots.
At first, it seemed that none of the five rounds he fired hit the
creature, and when it jumped for the final lunge Douglas figure he
was dead. Douglas was able to jump to the side at the last second and
saw the ghoul hit the ground and not get back up. He pumped several
more rounds in the creature's head to make sure it wasn't faking.
Yank,” Douglas heard someone say behind him in a bizarre slurring
accent similar to Australian English, “you've had a bloody busy
turned and saw his worst nightmare, a Draka soldier just a few meters
away. Even worse, Douglas realized that given the soldier's size and
physical stature he was probably looking at one of the post-human
Drakensis creatures engineered for speed, endurance, strength, and
just about every other characteristic that was useful for killing.
The ghoul was bad enough, but Douglas now measured his remaining
lifespan in single digit minutes.
beastie was my pet,” the Drakensis said, “I raised it from a pup.
I was going to bring you to headquarters because the bounty on live
pilots is big, but now I'm just going to cut you into little pieces.”
Knowing the American pilot could offer no real resistance the
Drakensis slowly disconnected the targeting cables running from the
side of his head to the assault cannon he had just placed on the
with only his pistol and a knife Douglas knew he was a dead man
walking. But he had no intention of going without a fight. “Well
snake,” he said to the Drakan super soldier, “how many friends
did you have on those transports?”
statement actually appeared to catch the monster off guard. “Was
that you Yank?” it asked. “Cause I had bunches, on those
I figure there must be over four thousand dead super soldiers like
you with clouds of flies buzzing around their crispy corpses. If I
die today it will be with high degree of satisfaction.” Douglas
said slowly readying his pistol for a one in a billion shot.
best Alliance intelligence suggested that while physically the
Drakensis were unbeatable and that intelligence was above average,
their egos could be easily bruised. The enraged Drakensis pulled a
ugly looking machete from a scabbard and ran towards Douglas.
creatures still bleed and die like humans, it's just a lot damn
harder to do. The simplest way is to pump a couple of heavy rounds
into their chest or just one in the head, armed only with a pistol
Douglas had to go for the latter. With barely a second to aim,
Douglas raised his pistol and tried to hit the creature's eye in the
hopes the slug would penetrate the brain. He fired off a single round
but wasn't able to dodge the Drakensis like the ghoul before and the
collision to Douglas felt like getting first hit by a semi then a
the stars that seemed to spend an eternity floating in front of his
eyes cleared, Douglas found himself on the ground. At first his body
refused to obey any commands. Douglas sympathized, it had been a
truly shitty day with having his plane blow up, dealing with a ghoul,
then having to try and survive an encounter with a Drakensis. Despite
the totally attractive idea of just continuing to lay on the ground
among the dead leaves, he forced himself to stand up. Unfortunately,
standing up meant Douglas caught sight of the Drakensis calmly
walking toward him. For Douglas there was a small consolation when he
saw that he had indeed hit the super soldier in the right eye, but it
wasn't a direct hit. The round had impacted at an angle blowing away
the eye and a good chunk of his skull.
willed his hurt and exhausted body into action allowing him to land
several blows on the Drakensis. Except for the glancing blow to the
creature's injured head, nothing he did seemed to bother it. For the
Drakan super soldier, Douglas was just a bloody rag doll for him to
throw around. “That the best you can do big boy?” Douglas said
trying to taunt the monster a little more before he died.
when Douglas' vision started to go black he thought he heard some
commotion off in the distance. Sure enough, the super soldier heard
something as well, it dropped Douglas and walked away. Struggling to
stay conscious Douglas saw the Drakensis' chest explode first then
its head. The last memory he had of that day involved a pararescue
team arriving on the ground and the chopper in the air.
came back in bits and pieces, one moment he saw his wife Aileen
Garcia by his side. Her lovely face showing toxic combinations of
worry, fear, and uncertainty. “You were right babe,” Douglas
whispered during a brief moment of lucidity, “it was best we didn't
have any kids. The world has certainly gone from simple shit to utter
times he woke up to find himself alone in his hospital room with the
television left on showing one of the channels the Draka occupation
forces now controlled. He knew the broadcast was from Charlotte,
North Carolina because he recognized the young lady at the news desk
who started giving news reports just days after the war started. He
long blond hair was now gone and she now sported a numerical tattoo
above her right ear. The Draka's way of keeping track of their
entirety of her broadcast was now devoted to instructing Americans on
how to act around Draka forces and the processes involved with
becoming a slave. Video clips were periodically shown of long lines
of Americans having their hair shaved off, issued a utilitarian jump
suit, then put to work. Other video clips showed what would result if
anyone resisted, namely impalement on a piece of wood or metal rod.
Images were shown of impaled American soldiers and civilians along
some highway, some still alive. Their pleas for a merciful end to
their pain and suffering being laughed at by Drakan troops. Douglas
had no idea how long he had been unconscious, but it was clear the
war was going exceptionally bad.
morning Douglas had an unexpected visitor, his base commander General
Lee Peterson. “Captain,” he said standing beside an army general
he didn't know, “I know it ridiculous to say this but the situation
is beyond grave. You have two more days to rest and recover, after
that you have an extremely unusual and dangerous mission to perform.
One that could possibly win us the war before it even started.”
Douglas heard every word but figured that after all the images of
terror and disaster he watched on the television he must have been
Timeline, July 2014
days after the appearance of Captain Richard Douglas
found her,” Colonel Ellen Marcus said as she abruptly threw open
the door and entered General McDonald's office.
general was sitting at his desk with his chair turned away from the
door and just staring out the large picture window behind his desk.
As scenes go, Ellen thought to herself, it was rather uninspiring
since it was just one of the Pentagon's many parking lots. It was
several hours before sunrise and McDonald seemed lost in thought
contemplating all they had learned in the last two months. “Where
was she,” he asked after finally turning his chair to acknowledge
his long time friend and protege.
Marcus had spent years working with McDonald and knew this mood. She
grabbed the seat next the door and sat down. “Believe it or not,
she's an Air Force surgeon stationed in Germany. I've checked her
personal and family history, it matches exactly with what we know of
Captain Douglas' wife in the original timeline. The only problem is
that she's married to another doctor and has two kids by the guy.”
that sucks, I should have figured it was too much to hope she was
single,” McDonald said as he opened one of the desk drawers and
pulled out a bottle of tequila and two glasses. “I imagine you've
already contacted her?” He said while casually pouring some of the
clear liquid in both glasses.
Marcus said while taking one of the glasses. “She will be on a
special transport in about an hour. I personally talked with her over
a secure line and told her this situation was to be considered highly
classified and that everything would be explained once she arrived in
two sat in silence for several minutes occasionally refilling their
glasses. For some, the quiet would have felt awkward but for McDonald
and Marcus there was a comfort in being together. “What's really
bothering you Scott?” Marcus asked figuring he would not get moving
again unless she got him thinking out loud.
President and the Joint Chiefs are pressuring me for a final report.
The problem, of course, is that I have more questions now than when
Douglas first appeared and no answers. We have over thirty
theoretical eggheads battling each other over the finer points of
time travel, alternate timelines, and temporal paradoxes with no
clear opinion was to whether the Draka still exist in some fashion.
It's too bad Dr. Randal Bernard Lewis does not have a counterpart in
our reality, he's probably the only one who could provide some real
leaned back in the spare office chair and quickly threw back and
swallowed the clear liquid in her glass. Damn, she thought to
herself, a four-star general and he continues to buy the cheapest
crap. “Got to admit,” she said once the bad aftertaste had
cleared, “after seeing the video of Dr. Lewis on Douglas' computer
tablet I wondered if his counterpart was Hunter S. Thompson.”
laughed at that suggestion, “One of our scientists said the same
thing, and that it would take such a brilliant, totally off the wall
eccentric come up with a way to invent a time travel device. Lewis'
eccentric nature was also a testament at how desperate the United
States and the Alliance were in the original timeline. I've had time
to review some of Lewis' personal journal entries, both the United
States and the Alliance threw billions of dollars at every project
that had even a hint of a chance at giving them an edge against the
a way it served them well,” Marcus casually said, “the Alliance
ended quite a bit ahead of us in many technologies. The memory core
on Douglas' computer tablet is well over ten terabytes, and our space
program is a totally embarrassment compared to theirs.” Neither
Marcus nor McDonald wanted to think about the Alliance's “New
America” project and the fact that after substantial prompting,
astronomers had confirmed the existence of a Earth-sized planet
orbiting in Alpha Centauri A's Goldilocks zone. Further confirmation
that the planet the Alliance named Samothrace had a breathable
oxygen/nitrogen atmosphere was at least several years away.
McDonald began after throwing back another half-glass of cheap
tequila, “we might still be stuck in Earth orbit but at least we
don't have to worry about those damned post-human Homo
creatures nor those genetically-engineered hybrid baboon-canine
combinations the Domination used to disrupt Alliance forces.” While
the Alliance had a significant lead in electronics and computer
technology, the Domination of the Draka were masters of genetic
engineering. Douglas' computer tablet had revealed that the Draka as
early as the 1970's had sequenced the genomes of many living
creatures and had moved directly to creating hybrid combination and
even a post human version of themselves geared for combat. The most
insidious element of the Homo
monsters were their ability to subtly control the enslaved
populations through the pheromones they produced, which had the
effect of unconsciously pacifying normal Homo
sapiens and the
creatures the Domination also created.
two old friends fell into a silence that last several minutes. “What
are we going to do Scott?” Ellen finally asked revealing a rare
moment of worry and outright fear.
first McDonald refused to even look at Ellen, and when he did he took
a long time to refill his glass before answering.“Despite the fact
Dr. Lewis believed his temporal calculations allowed a time traveler
to loop back on him or herself and stay in the original timeline, our
people aren't so sure. Most believe that when Douglas did his
temporal jump he just crossed over to an alternate universe, that his
went unchanged. The one thing our scientists do believe is that
Lewis' device in essence rang our timeline like a bell, possibly
drawing the attention of any sufficiently advanced Draka in a near
infinite number of other universes. So what will we do Ellen, prepare
for the worst possible scenario.”