By Mark Lefebre
The armaglass door slid open to reveal the mist-shrouded body that lay inside the cryo-unit. Several hours before a computer malfunction had started the thaw process. As the fog faded away, the naked figure sat up.
Shaking is head Anya felt the clouds lift from his senses. The last thing he remembered was being put to sleep for on operation on a tumor in his lung. The doctors had said it was not dangerous but during the operation an infection spread through his respiratory system. The doctors had no choice but to place him in cryogenic stasis.
Anya looked around the room for the doctors and nurses he expected to see. The deserted room seemed cavernous to him. Ha slowly slipped out of the "Cold Sack" that his cryo-stasis required and rose unsteadily to his feet. A sudden head rush forced him to sit in a nearby chair until it passed. It was then that Anya realized he was naked. Shivering in the suddenly cold room, Anya pulled on a white lab coat that lay on a nearby table. Walking slowly to the other side of the room Anya saw a thin file folder lying on one of the tables near him. Several other cryonic chambers were around him but he had no idea how to open them. He thought the file folder might have instructions. opening it several of the pages crumbled. the few reaming ones he laid out on an empty table and read.
At the top of the pages was bold, red lettering TOP SECRET B-12 CLEARANCE ONLY. the sheets seemed cryptic to him until he had them in the right order. Suddenly he realized he was looking at all the command codes for the facility he was in. Before he was frozen he had been on the redoubts sec force. Anya had been in charge of security for the whitecoats called the "Gateway". Anya had no idea what it was and had no inclination to know until now. Suddenly wondering what the date was, Anya walked back to his cryo-chamber and scraped the frost off the readout. What he saw shocked him. It read:
CURRENT TIME/DATE 1230 Jan 13, 2102.
Anya stared at the panel in disbelief. knowing that if it was true, all the people he had ever known were long dead and he was more than likely forgotten about. Hurrying back to the table, Anya carefully gathered up the papers and took them with him.
As part of the sec force, Anya had a small computer chip surgically embedded in his hand. All he had to do to open a door was press his hand against a scanner. Anya scanned his way out of the cryo-chamber room and entered the main hall of the redoubt. Wearing only a lab coat made him feel a little self conscious. The first place he went was the main clothing supply.
He chose several sets of heavyweight military battle dress uniforms and two pair of combat boots. He pulled a duffel bag from a box and filled it with spare uniforms and miscellaneous clothing items. Now fully dressed, Anya walked to his post at the guard station and retrieved his key ring. this was a metal ring with about half a dozen magnetic strip cards on it. These were "Emergency cards" only to be used in extreme emergencies. They gave access to the entire redoubt with the exception of B-12 areas. Only the senior sec coordinator had keys to those areas. Anya quickly opened the door to the sec armory and found it stripped bare. The only thing left was a set of web gear lying in a heap in a corner. Slinging it over his shoulder, Anya felt the full magazine pouches. Six full 30 round magazines for an M-16. In another pouch were five 40mm grenades for the M-203s some of the sec force carried. Anya hid this and his duffel bag in a locker that sat near the door. Anya pulled one of the magazines from the web gear and stuck it in his pocket in case he found a rifle.
Walking down the corridor Anya spotted the main commissary. Suddenly he was ravenously hungry. Slipping his card through the reader Anya walked through the front door and stopped to look around. Most of the shelves were stripped bare. In the back Anya found some cans of food that had been forgotten behind some boxes of TP. Taking the cans and several rolls, Anya stuffed them into a small gym bag he found in another aisle. Walking with the bag slung over his shoulder, Anya set off for the main armory.
When he got there he saw marks along the base of the heavy sec steel door that looked as though someone had had a go at it with a gren. this signaled to Anya that the contents were probably undisturbed. He palmed the door open and walked inside. A good part of the equipment had been taken with the troops when the redoubt had been closed up but about 30% of it was still in place.
Anya walked among the shelves for about and hour before he found what he wanted. Still wrapped in greased paper was a Maremont. A cut down version of the M-60 it weighed less than half the M-60. Pulling it out of its paper he checked it over and set about finding some ammunition. In several olive drab cases in a corner Anya found about 3000 rounds of linked 7.62. Slinging all the ammo he could carry around himself he staggered back to the guard station and cleaned and oiled his prize. On his next trip he picked up a CAR-15 pistol and a Beretta 93-R. He had dumped the contents of his duffel bag out in the locker and now carried it with him. He took all the 5.56 and 9mm ammunition he could find, which wasnt much, and returned to the guard station after securing the armory. Later he would return. As he walked back down the corridor he heard a scratching noise on the concrete behind him. Racking the cocking handle of the CAR, Anya spun around just in time to be hit full in the chest by a spiked ball a small mutie had launched at him.
Luckily the last chance body armor he wore deflected the ball. He sprayed the mutie with a burst from his CAR. The body flew back in spray of blood. Anya saw several more of the muties hulking a dozen yards back in the hall. Anya raised the CAR and emptied the magazine into them. Two of the three dropped. Slamming a fresh magazine home Anyas honed combat instincts kicked in. Dropping to the floor in a prone position, Anya fired six three-shot bursts at the retreating mutie. Three of them caught him in the back. Anya rose to his feet and slapped his last full magazine into the CAR. He then turned and ran for the guard station.
As he passed the downed mutie he stopped to look at the horribly mutated form. Short spindly legs attached to narrow hips made him almost comical looking. His face was accented by extremely large ears that flopped down over his collar bone. No mouth could be seen until Anya saw a slit in the throat. The muties eyes were set dead center in his head. Anya used the muzzle of his rifle to pry one of them open. Deep red in color they seemed endless in depth. Anya fired a single round into the mutie to make sure it was dead. As he walked by the other corpses he treated them the same.
Anya walked back to the guard station and collected his things. Instead of carrying the duffel bag, Anya retrieved a mil-spec rucksack from the supply room. All his clothes and equipment filled it to the brim. Anya decided to head to the motor pool and get out of here. walking along the corridor Anya decided he needed one more thing. Walking to his buddies personal locker and retrieved two knives. One was a Gerber Mk 2 fighting knife. The other was a stainless steel Tekna five hole sheath knife. Sliding the belt loop of the Gerber onto his web gear Anya tied the other end to his leg. The Tekna was placed inside the waistband of his pants on the opposite side.
With the Maremont slung across his chest, the Beretta in a UM-48 holster on his right side and his CAR in his hands he was ready to go. Before he left, Anya wanted to see what he had guarded for all those years. Whatever this gateway was it was mentioned in some of the papers he had found. Walking to the gateway complex took about twenty minutes. While on his way, Anya found a small golf cart plugged to a terminal set into the wall. Climbing aboard he released the electrical connection and rode the rest of the distance in silence. Above the door was the all to familiar sign: Entry absolutely forbidden to all but B-12 cleared personnel. Mat-Trans.
Anya pulled the papers from his rucksack. He them punched the correct code in. 331245. The door slid open with a hiss revealing an anteroom. A shriveled body lay on the floor. Next to the south wall lay another. Both had small automatic handguns. The first body had several gunshot wounds in the chest. The other had a single shot to the head. Anya helped himself to the ammunition in the pistols and continued. Ahead was a armaglass door. Comp panels lined both walls. Anya climbed inside the armaglass chamber. Suddenly the door slid shut behind him. Anya distinctly heard the click of a lock a second later.
A fuzzy feeling began creeping through his senses. Anya sat down on the floor with his CAR beside him. A second later everything went dark.
Anya awoke with a splitting headache. Then his mind began to register the outside world. The pale lime green of the walls had changed to a glaring orange. Anya staggered to his feet and leaned against the wall. He was unceremoniously dumped out on his head when the armaglass door opened. The redoubt was tiny, consisting only of a gateway, antechamber and an airlock. Outside all that could be seen was arid reddish brown desert. Anya slapped a magazine in the CAR and racked the charging handle. He moved slowly through the antechamber to the airlock. A small gauge read that the air outside was thin but breathable. Anya looked back at the gateway. Suddenly a spider as big as his head detached itself from the top of the armaglass door and launched itself at Anya. Anya spun the CAR around and emptied the magazine into the huge mutie. Dropping the CAR, Anya flipped the safety off the Maremont and let it rock and roll. Empty shell casing spewed out of the receiver. Full metal jacket rounds whined and sparked around the concrete room. The mutie spider exploded in a splash of black liquid that spattered on the floor and some of the comp panels. Immediately smoke began to rise as the acidic venom ate its way through the guts of the comps. Anya looked up and saw the lights inside the gateway die. Only three consoles escaped the acidic bath. One read Gen. Functions. the other two were both labeled Sat. Subcomm. The air inside the antechamber was beginning to become foul with the acrid fumes of the melting comps. Anya stepped into the airlock and cycled it.
He stepped out onto another world. Cradling his CAR, Anya spotted a low structure several hundred meters off across a rough plain. Anya shut the airlock door on the squat concrete structure and began walking. As he walked several more structure came into view. The one he had first seen was about two stories tall and had a cloud of what looked like smoke coming out a stack on the top. Anya approached the building with caution. He could see a panel on the door but it was obscured withered dust. Scraping it away Anya read the label:
OXY/GEN Unit #1 Authorized personnel only!
A large padlock secured the door. Anya blew it away with a shot from his CAR. Stepping inside the first thing he saw was the body of the guard. Looking as though he had been there for a hundred years the body had shriveled and become bone dry. A H&K G-11 caseless rifle laid on the floor next to him. A note was on the table where he had been sitting. Anya read it slowly.
"God help us. The world is gone. We heard the last messages out before everything got nuked. Most of the food is gone now. Several men raided the armory and kitchen. They took almost everything. The last I saw they took the hummer and headed out across the desert. Two days later a pyre of smoke could be seen for miles. I took the FAV and investigated. They had fired on a unmanned air recon drone. It called in a attack drone before they destroyed it. The hummer was just a gutted wreck. Inside I could see the blown up remains of almost all the weapons and food on base. The wreckage of the recon drone lay nearby. I drove back to the base and scrounged up everything I could find. All it was was the H&K, a DD42 .50 AE, and several MREs. To whoever finds this: you are welcome to everything here. This is it. Everything. All the access keys and passcards too. The FAV is in the garage next to this building. God forgive us for what we have done." Anya turned away from the note. It was only then he realized that the corpse on the floor had committed suicide. The H&K lay still pointed at his shattered temple. Anya picked it up pointed it out the door and emptied the magazine into space. Anya laid it on the table and turned to the corpse. A name plate had fallen off as the material of the jumpsuit he was wearing rotted. It read: Jackson.
"Rest in peace Mr. Jackson." Anya said. Not interested in the H&K, he picked up the DD42. One extra magazine of ammo lay on the table. Next to it was a foot square block of ammo clips for the caseless rifle. Outside he heard a roaring sound. Looking out the door he saw a small aircraft attempt to land on a short unpaved runway. It appeared that its comp. was malfunctioning as it plowed into the ground nose first. No explosion or fire followed. Anya pulled his Beretta out of its holster and approached cautiously. The mangled metal held a wild assortment of weapons. Some sort of large caliber machine-gun was mounted in the nose and several racks of air-to-ground missiles were in the upturned belly. the undamaged comp. unit was what interested Anya most. Pulling it free Anya ran back to the gateway chamber and replaced one of the burnt out consoles. If he could replace enough he might be able to jump again. Anya walked back to the OXY/GEN building. To the far south he saw a cloud of dust. realizing this probably meant trouble Anya slung the light CAR-15 on his rucksack and unslung the powerful Maremont. Locking the bolt the rear Anya slapped in a fresh belt of ammo, Anya prepared for whatever it was. When it appeared Anya would have died laughing if the occupant wasnt holding a gun. An ancient dodge dart was being driven but the ugliest person he had ever seen. The dart sped over a faint trail etched into the dusty rock surface. Anya saw that the old car wasnt going to stop. Holding back the trigger he raked the car from front to back riddling it with a full fifty round belt. The car slewed to a halt and a small fire broke out in the engine compartment. realizing smoke would bring every eye for miles around, Anya ran inside and grabbed a fire extinguisher. Spraying the engine down took a few minutes. After he finished, Anya looked inside the car. The shredded body lay in the front seat. In the back were several cases of canned goods. Anya saw several of these had been punctured by slugs and their contents had leaked out. When he saw this he was glad he didnt try to eat anything out of them. Black mush oozed out the broken cans. The labels said Beets but the gelatinous goo nowhere near resembled the veggie he had once eaten. Anya got the FAV and drug the dead car behind a small dune where it would soon disappear under a sand bank. As he walked back he studied the handgun he had taken from the body. It was a small blackpowder singleshot. Anya pointed it off into the desert and pulled the trigger. A soft clink was all he heard. An instant later the gun detonated with a boom that could be heard for miles. Anya tossed the empty weapon over his shoulder and hauled ass for camp. When he got there he locked the FAV in the garage and, taking the caseless rifle and its ammo went to the dormitory.
Anya turned on the lights in the dormitory. A row of double bunks greeted him. Wall lockers covered the entire other wall. Anya methodically broke open the lockers and took anything of use. All he found were four MREs, a box of 9mm ammunition, two canteens and a small transistor radio. Anya laid these finds on a bed and walked into the main office of the barracks. a desk was covered with papers. Anya skimmed over a few of them until something caught his eye. It was a daily progress report labeled Aug 28, 1999. It read; Mars Colony progress reports. Anya almost fell over backward. He was on MARS for Christs sake! Anya sat down and began reading. When he stopped, night had fallen. Anya picked up his CAR and went outside. Looking up at the cloudless sky he saw a unknown blue dot. "Earth" he said to himself. A smile crept across his face. As quickly as it came the smile left. He was stuck here until he could repair the gateway. During the night the comp. unit he had replaced began calling in all the drones flying around the planet. They silently slid in and landed. When Anya woke the next morning the sun glinted off the skins of 14 drone aircraft. Only three were attack drones. The rest were recon. Anya stripped the comp. units out of all of them and reinstalled the units at the gateway chamber. This took several days of hard work. After he was done he took a day off.
Anya spent the day sleeping and watching vids in the barracks entertainment room. He watched his favorite vid ever. The Road Warrior.
The next day Anya stripped the guns out of the attack drones. Dust clouds had become more and more frequent and Anya thought this meant trouble. There was one C3I bunker on base and this was where he set up shop. Two of the heavy machine guns were set up at the view slits. Anya had stripped every plane of ammo and linked it all into two long belts. One for each gun. Anya put the caseless and all its ammo in the bunker too. Eventually he moved a bunk down there and lived there. Most of the time his rucksack sat idle in a corner. He kept it packed and ready to go just in case. The FAV was fully fueled and the other undamaged machine had been bolted to it along with 100 rounds of ammo. On his twentieth day there they arrived.
Anya saw the large dust could the day before. He knew this was it because the cloud was larger and closer than any before. When the huge mutie beasts lumbered into view Anya saw two of them carried a cage made of scrap metal. Inside were two human figures. As Anya watched the beasts opened the cage and drug the male captive out and ate him. Anya turned and ran to the small bathroom before he puked.
Pure rage creased his face before he returned. Savagely racking the charging handle of the machine gun Anya raked the line of tracers back and forth across the lines of mutie bodies until the ammo ran out. Grabbing the caseless rifle, Anya Pushed out the door. A light wind had come up and blowing sand crossed his vision. To the woman trapped in the metal cage he looked like a god. Anya strode purposefully across the ground. As he approached the first of the muties he spun around the H&K and blazed mercilessly into the downed beasts. Anya walked up to the cage and, pulling his Gerber from its sheath, cut through the thin metal of the door and helped out the half naked female. Anya saw another dust cloud forming in the distance. "Shit." he cursed. He pulled on the girls arm. She followed him like a whipped puppy. Tired and gaunt she had a difficult time keeping up with Anya. Anya was about twenty feet ahead of her when he saw the flash from the first of the mutie herd. Anya dived to the ground. The shrapnel from the blast caught the woman full in the chest. She was thrown backward at least thirty feet. Anya looked over at the crumpled form. A huge well of anger roe inside him. "Fuck you!" he yelled at the approaching beasts. He slammed a fresh magazine in the H&K. Holding the trigger back he cut down at least three of the beasts before he ran out of ammo. He rammed home the last mag he had with him and burned it out dropping another two. Anya slung the caseless over his shoulder and pulled the DD42 from the SOB holster he had taken off the dead soldier. He knelt and rested his arm on his knee. The DD42 bucked time after time after time. Anya expended both the magazines and dropped the pistol. He ran back to the bunker and began firing with the machine gun. At length the last of the muties fell. Anya had about 280 rounds of ammo left for the machine-gun.
Anya got mad. Pulling the last of the ammo from the gun he slung it over his shoulder and picked up his web gear and weapons. He got the FAV out of the garage and loaded it down with fuel and weapons. He followed the track the muties had left. One of the creeds he had lived by before he was frozen had been leave a place a little cleaner than what you found it.
Anya cruised until dark. Then he flipped on the NV goggles that the FAV provided. Slowing down some he saw a faint glimmer ahead. Pulling off the track, Anya dismounted and got his caseless and Maremont. Taking all the ammo he had for them Anya walked the remaining distance to the bowl of land.
Anya peered over the rim of the bowl and saw at least 100 of the beasts moving below him. Caves lined the edges of the bowl. Anya pulled a battered pair of Zeiss binoculars out of his musette bag and peered through the haze. Along the far wall of the bowl a large cage similar to the one he had broken up at the base was positioned. Inside it was about a dozen human bodies. Gutted and butchered they hung like sides of meat. The rage rose in Anya again. Dragging the Maremont forward Anya Dropped the bipod legs and began firing. When he started he had around 2500 rounds of ammo like together. When he finished he had about 350 rounds left. Below him the depression dripped with the blood of the beasts. Only three had made it out alive. Anya slung the Maremont over his shoulder and walked back to the FAV. Crawling inside he fired it up and began to chase down the escapees. The heavy machine-gun was pintle mounted above his head. All he had to do was reach up and fire. He spotted the three forms moving along a dune. One of them raised a weapon and Anya fired. Tracers from the machine-gun ripped all three figures. Anya stopped firing into the figures when the weapon ran out of ammo.
Anya drove back to the base and parked the FAV next to the OXY/GEN unit. In the front seat he placed three of the five one pound blocks of explosive he had found in the FAV. Anya then gathered all his things and walked to the gateway. Just before he cycled the airlock he hit the button on the radio detonator that he found with the explosive. The blast shook the entire base. Anya saw the OXY/GEN unit explode into a million pieces. The barracks and C3I bunker followed a few seconds later. Anya smiled and walked into the gateway. The rigged comps. jittered and buzzed. Anya pulled the armaglass door shut and sat down with the CAR next to him. Clutched in his hand was a small gold chain that had been around the neck of the woman. As the jump initiated the heart on the end of the chain turned so you could read it. Inscribed on it were these words: To my Great-Grand-Daughter. Anya.